Thursday, November 8, 2012

Into the Wild Blue Yonder

Hi everyone!! I'd like to first apologize for my absence from writing; it has certainly been a pretty crazy month for me! On October 10th, my boyfriend and I made the move from Wisconsin to California. We decided that driving all of our stuff out there was the cheapest option, so we both packed up our little cars to the brim and started on our journey. I've written some details below about each state that we drove through. All in all, it was a pretty good trip. We wanted to get to Cali as fast as possible, so we didn't do much stopping along the way (we're saving that for our way back). We did, however, see some amazing scenery.

Iowa

Okay, not much to write about here. But, we did drive through Des Moines which looked like a pretty fun city! Luckily, our first day of driving went by pretty fast. I chalk it up to our excitement of getting on the road. We made a rest stop every 3 hours, which also made the drive seem to go by a little faster. 

Nebraska

We ended our first day of driving in Kearney, Nebraska, with not much to report on before that. Our second day started pretty early at 8 AM. After a few hours of driving we knew what it was like to be out in the open, in the middle of nowhere. But, it was a really cool feeling looking to the left and right of you and being able to see miles and miles of open land. 

Colorado

We continued driving through Colorado on our second day, and finally reached some mountains! I've never been to Colorado before, and after driving through, I'm pretty sure it's my favorite state scenery wise. The mountains were insanely beautiful. I'll always remember driving around a big bend and seeing my first huge mountain. My jaw literally dropped. I was a very happy girl for the next few hours, driving up, down, and around these amazing hills. We ended our second day in Grand Junction. I can't wait to go back to Colorado and actually spend some time there!

Utah

Our third day started early again, and I wasn't sure what to expect out of Utah. I was pleasantly surprised! Although the mountains weren't as big or green as colorado, they were still beautiful. It was really fun for me to drive through, since I'm not used to constantly being surrounded by hills in the distance. We were able to stop pretty frequently, as there were many scenic view areas. Utah is where we took most of our roadtrip pictures, which I'll share below. 

Arizona & Nevada

We were able to drive through the northern-most tip of Arizona, which took us approximately 40 minutes, but I'm still including it in my list:) We ended the day in Las Vegas. It was so exciting to see the Strip from so many miles away! We stayed at the Stratosphere, and decided to reward ourselves with a buffet and tickets to David Copperfield that night. Note: The Stratosphere and the MGM are at completely opposite ends of the Strip. If you have tickets to a show at the MGM and are staying at the Stratosphere, DO NOT WALK THERE OR YOU WILL BE LATE. We made that mistake, even though we left AN HOUR AND A HALF before show time, not realizing that we had to walk THREE & 1/2 MILES. Regardless, we were only 5 minutes late and the show hadn't started yet (small victory), and we had a great time at the show!

California

We made it, we made it! After seeing the Welcome to California sign, I did a little happy dance. It had been a long four days, but we were beyond excited to start with the move in process!


Below are some pictures that we took in Utah. Enjoy!












Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Guest Post: Billy Beltz of Volunteer Forever

Volunteering is a very important activity in my life. Locally, I have been volunteering as a Wildlife Caretaker at a wildlife center close to where I live, and it has been one of the coolest and best experiences of my life. I've helped to take care of injured and orphaned wildlife (ducks, birds, squirrels, bunnies,  etc.) and I'm so glad I found a way to not only spend time around animals, but actually be a vital part of their health and well-being. 

I have never volunteered abroad but it has ALWAYS been on my bucket list and it is definitely in my future plans. One of the biggest issues that comes up though is how to help fund a volunteer trip. Billy Beltz, Co-founder and CMO of Volunteer Forever, provides some tips on how to fundraise to help keep costs down:


As you may have already discovered, participating in a quality volunteer abroad project is not cheap. Aside from the general program fee that a volunteer placement organization may charge, there can be other costs including travel to and from your chosen destination. All these expenses can add up and be discouraging to prospective volunteers. But don’t let financial barriers keep you from participating in such a meaningful activity! One solution is to use ‘crowdfunding’ to help raise funds for your trip and help supplement the cost of volunteering abroad.

Crowdfunding websites allow users to create a campaign page that conveys their story and fundraising needs in a simple yet powerful way, and provides them with the tools to promote the campaign to their extended network. If done correctly it can allow you to reach more people than you ever would have through traditional fundraising methods. Crowdfunding has been highly effective in helping people raise money for new business and creative projects, and Volunteer Forever is excited to bring the concept to the world of volunteering abroad.
Here’s how to get started:

First, make sure you’ve decided which volunteer project you’ll be participating in (if you’re unsure visit Volunteer Forever (www.volunteerforever.com) to read reviews and select a placement). Once you’ve chosen a project and determined the amount you need to fundraise, visit Volunteer Forever (www.volunteerforever.com) and sign up. It’s quick, easy and free. Setting up your page is the easy part- the success of your fundraising campaign is determined by what you do afterwards. Here are 5 quick tips to ensure you optimize your fundraising campaign:
 
  1. Tell Your Story. Your campaign page should be much more than the basic facts of where you’re going and how much money you need to raise. People respond to stories, so make sure your page explains yours. Why are you volunteering and what do you hope to achieve? What will their donations contribute towards? Don’t hold anything back- this is a life-changing experience, and the more enthusiastic you are about your trip the more likely it is they’ll get excited too.

  1. Share Your Page. Spread the word among everyone you can! This may include family, friends, past teachers, co-workers, community members, or even just people that you know on a Christmas-card basis. A good first step is to use the “Share” widget on your campaign page to promote the page through email, Facebook and Twitter.
    1. Ask Your Contacts to Share Your Page. Don’t limit your outreach to just people you think have the money to donate. One of the most powerful benefits of our crowdfunding platform is that it makes it easy for others to share your page and reach an exponentially larger network. So when you share your page, ask people to share it with their contacts as well! If you don’t ask they may not even realize how they can help.

  1. Reach Out to Local Media. Send a short press release to your local media about the campaign. Make sure to include your campaign page link in the press release so people know where to go to donate. If you’re not comfortable writing a press release you can contact your local media and tell them about your volunteer abroad story, and they’ll let you know what they need from you.

  1. Take Advantage of Holidays & Special Events. No matter what time of the year you’re running your campaign, there’s usually some kind of holiday or special event you can integrate into your campaign. Make donations to your campaign the first thing you ask for as a Christmas, birthday, or graduation gift. And use holidays or other family get-togethers as an opportunity to show everyone your campaign page in person all at once.



Steven Weddle (Founder & CEO) and Billy Beltz founded Volunteer Forever to make it easier for people to find and fund their volunteer abroad trips. The website features program reviews to help volunteers discover and select the right overseas placement, as well as a unique crowdfunding platform that allows users to tap into the power of their extended networks and raise funds for their trip more effectively. To learn more visit www.volunteerforever.com.


So, fellow travelers, where is your next volunteer destination? I'd love to hear your own stories, tips, and info!


Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Finally Fall!

Greetings and HAPPY OCTOBER!! I wrote that in shouty capitals because I'm having a hard time containing my excitement as October is one of my favorite months. 

I've enjoyed taking some beautiful drives in my area, but regretfully haven't had much time to stop and take some photos. Luckily, I remembered to bring my phone along as I was walking my dog and was able to snap a few. I really enjoy the little things in life and stepping on crunchy leaves while admiring the newly colored trees is probably one of my favorite things this time of the year.




Some of my other favorite fall activities:

Decorating with autumn/halloween decorations (already did this 3 weeks ago)
Drinking apple cider and pumpkin spice drinks
Watching scary movies
Going to apple orchards and pumpkin patches
Haunted houses
& Bonfires!

A Salute to Autumn


Here's to a wonderful October! What are your favorite fall activities?




Friday, September 28, 2012

Three Fabulous Fashionable Flying Attire


Hello fellow travelers! If you're like me, you enjoy dressing up. Not necessarily for other people (though that doesn't hurt), but for yourself. When you know you look good, it not only boosts your self confidence, but gives you that extra "oomph". With the right clothing, it's as almost if you could yell, "here I am world, give me your worst!"and you could totally kick any bad day in the booty with your knee high boots. 

Aside from looking good however, I also want to be comfortable. Oh, I should probably mention I want both of those things while flying 30,000 feet in the air. It surely can't be done, right?!? Oh, but it can. I have compiled a list of three Glam Traveler flying-approved outfits from frumpy to fabulous. I have personally worn and tested each of them, and they are perfect for those long (and cold!) airplane flights. 

1. The Red Eye

Okay, I completely understand the need for wearing a sweatshirt at the airport. It's comfy, it's easy, it's casual. At least class the sweatshirt up a bit by wearing leggings, which are equally as comfortable. Throw on some sparkly flats and a fabulous purse, and this look goes from frumpy to fantastic. A simple track sweatshirt never looked so good. 



Leggings by Decree. Purse by Coach. 

2. Bad-Ass Business Class

Sometimes, you just don't want to be messed with. This outfit let's people know you mean business, while having the added bonus of wearability. While pairing a fun tank with a faux leather (yay for animals) jacket & boots, you can get to your destination in style! Oh, and don't let anyone tell you you can't mix brown with black (like my outfit below). Some rules can and should be broken (especially with my cute owl purse!!). 



Top by Forever 21. Jacket by JouJou. Leggings by Decree. Boots by Studio Works.


3. On my way to Santa Fe


You can't get much cuter or more practical than this outfit. It's trendy, yet super comfortable. If you want to up the ante, add a belt. I've paired this dress with a scarf for a pop of color, a medium size purse, and flats. If you get cold on airplanes (like me) pack a pair of socks in the purse and bring a zip up. You could also easily wear some tights or leggings (any color) with boots. 

Dress by Buttons. Purse by Kathy Van Zeeland. 



And there you have it, a list of three awesome outfits that get my stamp of approval. After all, fashion+comfort=perfection. What are your go-to styles for flying? As always, questions and comments appreciated!


xoxo, The Glam Traveler







Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best of the Northwoods-Leinenkugel Brewing Company

It's no surprise that great beer comes from Wisconsin, and one of the best breweries is located in the Northwoods of this state. While many breweries offer a great experience, I don't think there are any that offer quite as much as the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. 

Located in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, the Brewery has an interesting history. It all started in 1867 with business partners Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller. When they started brewing, they had only themselves as employees, with Jacob doing the brewing and John delivering the beer by cart. In 1884 John sold his share to Jacob, and from then onward the brewery has been known as Leinenkugel's. Today, Jacob Leinenkugel's three great-great grandsons, Jake, Dick, and John are running the business, and it is better than ever! For more information about the history, visit their homepage or visit the brewery yourself!


Outside the Brewery

One of the many great things about Leinenkugel's is that a guided tour of the brewery is completely FREE! The whole tour takes about 30-45 minutes and really shows you the ins and outs of the brewing business. I'm not even a huge beer drinker, but I was able to leave with lots of new information. 

Secondly (and probably the best part), not only is the tour free but so are the samples! This very rarely happens in breweries. I opted to try Summer Shandy and Berry Weiss, which was my favorite. I haven't had a chance to go in the fall, but I've heard great things about their Oktoberfest and I may go back soon just to test it out!


Samples inside the Leinie Lodge


Autumn is the PERFECT time for a visit to the Midwest, and just as equally a great time to take some brewery tours. If you are in the area, the Leinenkugel's Brewery is a must see.






Photos by Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Product Review: Honey Can Do Vacuum Packs

In the next two weeks, I will be packing up my life and moving out West. For some people, renting a U-Haul is the way to go. This is not so for me and my boyfriend, who are not only on a budget but are driving our teensy cars the whole way there. Since we don't have a lot of space, I decided to try out vacuum packs, as I have a whole lot of clothes and not a whole lot of space to put them. This is where the Honey Can Do Vacuum Packs came in handy. I bought two boxes of the 5 pack Closet Combo, which has 3 large bags and 2 medium size. The nice thing about these bags is that you can either vacuum out the air or roll it out if you  don't have access to a vacuum. 

I tested both ways, and found both did the job pretty equally. I did end up preferring using the vacuum in the end, as it was easier (no awkwardly sitting/rolling yourself on the bag) and faster. I also enjoyed watching four pillows being squished like marshmallows. Nice for storage and a little entertainment; not bad! 

I plan on using all of the bags and am excited to not only use them for car transportation but also for storage in our new apartment. The Vacuum Packs get two thumbs up from me!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Being a Cheesehead

Hello fellow travelers! For those that don't know, I am from Wisconsin, where us Wisconsinites are best known for eating cheese and drinking a lot of alcoholic libations. Of course, there is more to this wonderful state than just dairy and beer, but why not indulge from time to time? By the way, our cheese curds are to die for. I'm fairly certain there is nothing quite better than a fresh & squeaky cheese curd. 

So enough with the food talk, and onto the main subject here, which is being a cheesehead. What is a cheesehead? The word was first originated by Illinois football fans back in the day, which was supposed to be offensive. We Sconnies embraced the word though, and now use it to describe ourselves as fans of the Green Bay Packers. We even wear big foam cheese blocks on our heads to drive home the fact that we love our team (Yes, I own one). The Packers got their name in 1919 by Curly Lambeau (of whom the field is named after), because he asked for funds for uniforms from his employer, the Indian Packing Company, on condition that the team be named after the company. Thus, the name "Packers" was born and is still in use to this day. The best part, I think, about the Packers is that they are the only non-profit organization in the NFL (and other professional sports teams for that matter), AND they are community owned which means that any one can buy stock and therefore be an owner of the team (no other professional team in the US does that). Add to that having the most NFL Championships of any team, and one can understand why we cheeseheads love our Packers. 


Cheesehead 4 lyfe
I was able to go to my first ever Packer game last week at Lambeau Field. We purchased a package of tailgating and tickets, so we arrived to Green Bay at 4:00 PM to start the festivities. The tailgate party was in the parking lot of Brett Favre's Steakhouse and included all you can eat (burgers, brats, etc.) and all you can drink pop, screwdrivers, bloody mary's and good ole' H20. They also played some good music and had some activities going before the game started at 7.


Lambeau Field
So, at 6:30, we made the walk to the stadium. There were multiple tailgate parties going on, plus lots of things for sale and different things to do, like free hair painting, if you so wished. We got inside and walked to our seats in the 11th row. I was so excited being able to actually see the players faces, and tried desperately to get Clay Matthews and Aaron Rodgers attention by flailing my arms and screaming, but alas, no luck. The Pack was not doing so hot against the Browns, and it kept raining every 5 minutes or so, so we decided to leave at half-time. I know, we get a C- as fans. But, in my defense, it was pre-season AND we had a 3 hour drive ahead of us. Regardless, we had a really fun time and it was so much fun being surrounded by devoted fans of all ages. The only thing missing that night was a good bag of cheese curds. 


Fan Appreciation Night 




Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Day in the Windy City

Yesterday, I joined my boss and co-workers on a super fab day trip to Chicago. It was originally her idea (how lucky am I to work for someone like that?), and the rest of us girls decided we wanted to spend the time at the Navy Pier and doing some shopping (imagine that). If you've never been to Chicago before and only have a day there, I highly recommend following our sort-of itinerary.

We got to Chicago a little before noon, and our first stop was the Navy Pier. It just so happened to be a drop dead gorgeous day out (sunny and 75 degrees with not one cloud in the sky, and a perfect breeze) so we were happy that we picked such a great day to enjoy the outdoors. The Pier was all a-hustle and bustle and I couldn't wait to explore it.


Beginning of Navy Pier

The first thing that caught my eye was the ferris wheel, which we didn't get a chance to go on but I can only imagine the amazing view you get to see from up there. We then walked by the Shakespeare Theater which was currently playing Beauty and the Beast. We also saw they had an IMAX theatre and a Cirque Shanghai show to watch, ensuring one can never be bored while on the Pier.


Ignore my intrusive finger

Apart from all the activities available (I haven't yet mentioned the Children's Museum, various rides, segway tours, etc.), it was impossible to miss the amazing view of Lake Michigan, all blue and sparkling and magnificent.



End of Navy Pier facing the city

We marveled at the water and skyline for awhile before deciding where to eat lunch. There were a lot of restaurants to choose from, but the City Porch reeled us in with its chic yet laid-back vibe with views of the water and skyline. I loved the breezy white decor, paper lanterns, and mason jar candles tied to the trees. 
The perfect blend of laid back and posh!

City Porch opened in June, and I had no idea that it is actually a "pop-up restaurant" and will only be open until September (SO bummed about that). Each month of the summer features a different guest-chef, and August is chef Jimmy Bannos. The menu was perfect for me, open to many foods but just picky enough to not eat everything. I had a hard time deciding what to get as the menu featured many different types of salad and sandwiches and a lot of hors d'oeuvres type food. I ended up going with a Cheese Stuffed Pretzel and Havarti Mac & Cheese (both were under the "Small Plate" section). They were each $6, which I thought was a very reasonable price as this restaurant was not only in Chicago but had one of the best views as well. The Pretzel came out first and I was pleasantly surprised; it was good sized and had a house dipping sauce. With just a few bites in I realized this was the best soft pretzel I'd ever had; it was soft but crispy on the outside, the outside was lightly salted and seasoned, and the cheese in the middle was the perfect touch. The dipping sauce was just the cherry on top of the cake. A few minutes later, my Mac & Cheese came and it was also delicious with great texture! I was so happy with my meal and all of us girls had no complaints (and everyone got something different). If you are in Chicago anytime this summer, you HAVE to check this place out before it's gone!!

Hello pretzel, my old friend...

After enjoying all of our delicious food, we thought it was time to be on our way to do some shopping. And where better to do that but on Michigan Avenue? For those that don't know, Michigan Avenue (AKA the Magnificent Mile) is 13 blocks long filled with stores, restaurants, hotels, and various attractions and entertainment. It is impossible to see everything in an afternoon, so we decided to visit the Water Tower Place, a glorified 8-level shopping center, and we even had time to step outside to visit Tiffany & Co and Saks Fifth Avenue (and even the Ghirardelli store, YUM). We certainly got our fix of retail therapy! Sadly, our time was soon up and we had to get back to the limo (yes, our boss got us a LIMO) to head home. 

John Hancock Center & Water Tower Place

I can not wait to get back to Chicago, hopefully before summer ends! There's just so much to do in this city that even if you lived here, it'd be hard to see it all. 

Did I miss out on visiting anything spectacular? I'd love to know so I can visit again.



Monday, July 30, 2012

Visiting Naples, Florida

My family and I are big fans of Florida (with the sun, sand, and beaches, who wouldn't be?) and have visited there many times. Recently, we were able to go to Naples, Florida and stay at a friend of the family's place who so generously let us invade for a week! This vacation was more of a laid-back, relax in the sun kind of a trip (one of my favorites), so we didn't really have set plans. Sometimes, those are the best! 


The forecast for the week was looking good, partly cloudy and in the upper 70's. We went in May, so the weather wasn't too humid at this time. We spent our first day unpacking and laying by the pool, listening to some music and enjoying drinks. The pool area had been recently renovated and included a swim up bar, jacuzzi waterfall, and a beautiful grill and bar area. Being from the Midwest, we were not used to this type of luxury, so we took full advantage of it! My dad took the role as bartender and made some awesome drinks while us girls enjoyed some pool floats. This day was also my Graduation day from college (which I didn't mind missing), so we took a moment to do a mock "ceremony" complete with my latest read Mockingjay as my diploma. We ended the day a little earlier than usual, exhausted from getting sun all day (not a problem I mind having). We ended up ordering Chinese food for dinner from a place not far (Jasmine's, if you must know) which had AMAZING general tso's chicken. I'm not kidding, it was the best I've ever had. I could probably eat that stuff every day of my life. Anywho, after dinner we chatted a bit about what we'd like to do during the week and went to bed.


Soaking up the sun!

The next day turned out to be more cloudy than expected, so we went to the Naples Zoo. Original ticket prices were $19.95 per person, but you could purchase online for a discount of $16.95, which we ended up doing. We got there pretty early so it wasn't very crowded (yay), and we began the day with a show in their Open Air Theater, featuring a baby sloth, an owl, and some more fun creatures. 


What's sweeter than a baby sloth holding a teddy?
We also got a chance to see a live feeding of alligators which was so awesome; those guys were huge!! And to my amazement they responded when called by name! After that, I really wanted to check out the Primate Expedition Cruise which for me was the highlight of the zoo trip. We got on a boat and our guide took us on a 15 minute cruise past some different islands all filled with various primates. They were all pretty active during our cruise time and it was so fun to see their natural behavior. 


Primate Expedition Cruise

After a few hours of being there and seeing a LOT of animals, we decided to head to Joe's Crab Shack for dinner. I'd never been before, so I was curious to check it out. I actually got it confused with Dick's Last Resort for some odd reason and was prepared to be insulted by our waiter, but it never came (obviously). We enjoyed each other's company, the food, and the great view from the deck. 

View of Naples Bay
We then went to downtown Naples to do a bit of shopping. It was fun to check out the cute local stores, and we happened upon one of my favorites, Pucci and Catana. Pucci and Catana is a luxury pet boutique, and I just so happen to have a puppy of my own I love to spoil. We stopped inside and had a lot of fun looking at all the cute accessories and we even got to talk to the owner for a bit. I signed up for their email list and awhile later found out about a photo contest they put on in search of a new face for their website. I entered my dog's photo and he ended up making the top 10 with this picture (yes I'm a proud mama):

My Benny Boy

We ended the night at McCabe's Irish Pub and Grill for a drink and enjoyed people-watching amid the twinkling lights that were set up around the street. We were amused by a street-dancing extraordinaire, earbuds in and loving life, truly dancing like no one was watching (though we all were). One of the things I enjoy most is being outside on a beautiful summer night with good food, drinks, and company, and this was one of those nights. 


The next day we enjoyed another day at the pool, and then went downtown to Roy's for happy hour (called Aloha hour). The special was $5 specialty cocktails and a variety of their appetizers. The girls got a Hawaiian Martini (pineapple, vodka, coconut rum, YUM) and we all shared Beef Sliders with sweet potato fries; double yum. We chatted with our waiter for awhile and enjoyed the scenery outside of the Naples Bay. 


Outside of Roy's-Downtown Naples



We then finished the dining experience at Naples Boathouse, which was truly waterfront dining. The decor was just right and they had not only amazing seafood but steak as well. Being so close to the water, we were able to see boaters going every which way, and some wildlife too. It was a great experience! 

After that, we decided to check out some local real estate (aka being somewhat creepy and driving around posh neighborhoods). I'm so glad we did though, because we saw some humongous monsters of houses. I did notice that a good 50% were on the market, and I couldn't help but imagine what it would be like to own one of those things, and how much the mortgage alone would be. Daydreaming aside, the sun was about to set and I remembered that we were told to get to the Naples Pier for some great pictures. We rushed over and made it just in time before the sun went down (literally with less than a minute left). 

Sunset at Naples Pier

Our vacation eventually came to an end, and I can't wait to visit Naples again. There is a lot there that we didn't get to see, and next time I hope to see as much as I can, after getting my dose of pool-time in, of course!










Monday, July 23, 2012

Wine Me Up!

I spent my weekend with a fabulous group of girls for a bachelorette party in Stillwater, Minnesota. The bride-to-be picked a daytime activity that we were all enthusiastic about; wine tasting! Lucky for us, we live in an area thats not too far from some great wineries. 


We started the day at around noon in Stillwater. Stillwater is a cute little town on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border and right on the edge of the St. Croix River. It's just a short drive from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. The scenery is gorgeous, and the town has one of the most charming downtowns I've ever seen. We wanted to get some lunch first, and it was hard to pick a restaurant as there were a lot to choose from! We ended up going to Brine's; they had a good variety of food, and the prices couldn't be beat. A lot of us chose a make-your-own sandwich with up to three meats and cheeses for $4.95. Talk about a good deal! 


Inside Northern Vineyards Winery
Our next stop was winery #1, Northern Vineyards Winery. It was right on Main Street, and a short walk from the restaurant. It was pretty crowded when we went in, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes to start the wine tasting. While we waited, we browsed around the store. They had a lot of cute things for sale; apparel, candles, wine accessories galore, and more!


The wine tasting was $5 per person and included 9 wines to sample. They did a great job explaining each wine we were tasting. I personally enjoy both white and red wines, but like a bit on the sweeter side. I ended up loving their "Red" the best as it was just how I liked it; not too dry but with a lot of flavor. 


Tastings of the Day at Northern Vineyards
A few of us purchased a couple bottles and left Northern Vineyards Winery satisfied (and giggly) that we were able to sample so many wines. 












Our next stop brought us to Saint Croix Vineyards, a short drive from downtown Stillwater. The winery was situated on a very charming landscape, complete with picnic tables, lots of greenery and of course the vineyard. 

Outside Saint Croix Vineyards
Once inside, we really enjoyed the rustic-chic atmosphere. There was even live music playing in the corner! We purchased our tickets ($5 per person) and went to the bar to begin our tasting. We were able to sample 7 or 8 wines, and I really liked both the Frontenac Gris (hints of peach and pear) and the Frontenac (robust and earthy with a hint of cherry). Fun fact; both of these wines are developed from the University of Minnesota viticulture program! 

The chilled wine room

Inside Saint Croix Vineyards



















After the tastings we went frolicking around the Vineyard for some photo ops. We got some great shots and we left very happy that we could experience both of these great vineyards and they were very bachelorette party friendly. I can't wait to go back (hopefully soon) and enjoy some of the great events put on by both wineries! 

The Vineyard



Are there any great wineries in your area? Let me know!




Monday, July 16, 2012

Does Lemon Juice Actually Work On Hair?

That is a question I've been asking myself for a long time and today I decided to put this question to the test. I was born blonde and over the years my hair has faded from a golden blonde to a not quite blonde, not quite brown color (read: dishwater). I used to get my hair highlighted once every 6 weeks or so, which ended up costing around $80 bucks every trip. Lately, I've been trying to save up money for my move to California, and decided the trips to the salon would have to be put on hold. I haven't gone in about 4 months, and my roots have grown out to the point where it's starting to get a tad noticeable. I remembered hearing about the lemon trick and decided to give it a try. 


I went to the grocery store and bought a few lemons (in hindsight, I should have just went for a bottle of lemon juice) for under $2. I came back home and squeezed two lemons, enough to make 1/3 cup. I mixed in about 1/4 of water, and poured it into a spray bottle. This ended up being more than enough as I was just spraying my roots and not all of my hair. I sprayed enough on to get it damp, then sat in the sun for about an hour. I heard you should really condition your hair after this, so I used shampoo (I use Redken Real Control) and then Redken's Extreme Strength Builder Plus conditioner (it's a 15 min. conditioner and smells amazing). 









After, I blew dry my hair and looked for the results. I found that while it was not extremely noticeable, I did see a bit more shimmer than before and it was a tiny bit lighter. I'm going to continue trying the lemon juice, as it's insanely cheaper than going to a salon. I'm sure using the juice more than twice a week is not good for your hair, so I'm going to try again at the end of the week and continue thereafter once a week for the rest of the summer. I'll report back every now and then and let you know if there are any significant changes!




Have you tried using lemon juice on your hair? Or are there other methods you like to use?




xoxo, Glam Traveler

Friday, July 13, 2012

Homage to Harry Potter-Land

Okay, so I admit it. I have loved and always will love Harry Potter. Ever since my little adolescent hands got a hold of the first book, I've been enchanted by the Boy Who Lived. You can imagine my thrill when my sister and I planned a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, either the books or the movies (or both), I very much suggest you go! I daresay you will not be disappointed. 


The excitement began as we walked through Universal to the entrance of Hogsmeade. I looked up and saw this sign and geeked out a bit:


Respect the spell limits!
Once inside, you can take a walk through Zonko's and Honeydukes. Both looked like what I imagined they would, and sold all the candies and merchandise that were mentioned in the books. My sister was tempted to buy an extendable ear. We decided against it. 


We soon spotted the Butterbeer truck and went running to it. We'd only been waiting 10 years to try it! As expected it was quite pricey, I think about $10 bucks for a mug. But, you got to keep the mug, so obviously it was worth it. Even though I use the mug as a junk collector now. Oh, well. The point is it was absolutely delicious and I will genuinely miss the taste. 


Cheers!
It was around lunchtime when we decided to head to The Three Broomsticks for some food. They had a few options to choose from, and I think both of us opted for turkey legs and some sort of potato side. It was a little cafeteria style, but the decor was awesome. 


The Three Broomsticks


We then moved further into Hogsmeade and came across the Owl Post and Ollivanders. The Owl Post was pretty cute, and I think you could even drop off mail there and it would be stamped with some Harry Potter-esque mark. At Ollivanders you could get matched with your own wand, and purchase ones seen in the movie. We didn't have the time to wait in line to get "chosen" by a wand, but I imagine I would have a nice cherry wood with Veela hair in the middle. I'm just guessing, of course...


After all that browsing, we were ready to finally get to Hogwarts! It was a short trek down the path and all of a sudden, there it was in all its glory:


Hogwarts Castle


We proceeded to get in line for the main event, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Thankfully the line wasn't too long and we were inside the castle in no time. We got to see Dumbledore's office, the Dark Arts classroom, and a lot of other fun rooms before getting to the ride. The ride was sort of like an interactive roller coaster, not anything extremely fast, but it had so many twists and turns and things popping out at you that I actually got a bit scared! It was so much fun that we went on it again, and if we had the time I probably would have just kept going. We also went on the actual roller coaster in the park, called Dragon Challenge. You could pick one of two Dragons to ride, and it was definitely a rush! After the ride we decided we'd had enough thrill for one day, and got our Harry Potter fix, so we headed back to the hotel. 


And so concludes my review of Harry Potter-Land, aka The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I give it two-wands up! Okay, I'm done with the puns. 


Have you been to to Universal and/or WW of HP? What did you think?