Monday, August 14, 2017

Furry Meet Up in Arvada


The day after we returned from our whirlwind trip to South Dakota, there was a Furry gathering in Arvada that The Girl wanted to attend. She had spend so much time making her fursuit but had little chance to actually wear it so we agreed to take her. I'm so glad we did!

She was able to see old friends, make some new friends and had a genuinely wonderful time!





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Sunday, August 13, 2017

From Colorado to South Dakota


The start of school was creeping up on us quickly (as it always does). We had kept pretty busy all summer and had not yet taken an excursion away from the city.

When we first moved to Colorado, The Boy had mentioned wanting to visit Mount Rushmore. It was, after all, only a 5 or 6 hour drive from Denver.

So on Monday Mr. LH proposes a trip to Mount Rushmore...

Me: When do you want to go?
Mr. LH: I don't know...after the (school) open house Wednesday night.
Me: How long do you want to stay?
Mr. LH: Probably just overnight.

On Tuesday...

Me: Why are the hotels so expensive right now? And why is everyone booked?!? (The Sturgis Rally was in its second week.)
Me: (makes hotel reservations for one night)
Mr. LH: Maybe we can make a trip out to the Badlands, too.
Me: Ooohhh...there is a Minuteman Missile Silo we can go down, too. But you have to make reservations ahead of time.

(10 minutes later)

Me: No openings for the silo tour. (There were no openings for the tour through the entire weekend...make your reservation FAR in advance)

On Wednesday...

Mr. LH: We can take this route through Custer State Park. It's supposed to be really scenic. (It was)
Me: How are we going to drive up there, do all this, and come home in 2 days? We should probably see if we can stay another night.
Mr. LH: ....
Me: (extends hotel reservation to second night)

On Wednesday, we shopped for snacks for the road, packed our stuff, took The Girl to her open house (she is starting her freshman year of high school), and went to bed intending to be out the door at 7 AM (you know that didn't happen, right?)

We pulled out of the driveway sometime after 8am and headed north on I-25 toward Cheyenne. I couldn't help but notice that the scenery from northern Colorado through southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska looked very much the same...


Of course, just like the Rocky Mountains, the Black Hills seem to suddenly appear! And they are gorgeous!

It took us about 6 hours to reach Mount Rushmore with rest stops and occasional rain.

Mount Rushmore, South Dakota: Since time was not on our side, we decided to head straight to Mount Rushmore instead of going to the hotel first. We arrived around 3pm but the park is open late so that wasn't a big deal. There was a crowd going in even at that time of day! There is a $10 Parking Fee but if you're planning to stay in the area longer than we were, the parking pass is good for the next 7 days.

Looking at all the license plates on the cars, it seemed the entire country and a good portion of Canada was represented in that parking lot!

Coco, The Girl's plush ferret, always vacations with us.
We took the Presidential Trail that ran below the monument and in a big loop. I highly recommend doing this if you can, though there are lots of stairs.



Keystone, South Dakota: Our hotel was in Keystone so we wandered the small town and had dinner there both nights. The streets were lined with motorcycles from people visiting for the Sturgis Rally.


Had I known BEFORE our trip that the Keystone Historical Museum had an exhibit about Carrie Ingalls Swanzey (little sister Carrie from the Little House book series), we would have made time to visit!

Custer State Park, South Dakota: From Keystone, we took 16A (Iron Mountain Road) down through Custer State Park. We were just going to drive through here and take in the views but we kept stopping to explore and take pictures!


Badlands National Park, South Dakota: It is $20 admission per car, good for 7 days.

We drove down I-90 to the Northeast Entrance and looped around inside the park to the Pinnacles Entrance. Outside the Northeast entrance is a Gas Station/Gift Shop in case you need to fill up before entering the park.


We thought we would be in the car most of the time but there were lots of places to get out, walk around and explore. There were also a lot of "scenic overlook" type spots. Lots of photo opportunities!


Bathrooms are scarce. Bring plenty of water! We actually wound up getting there around 1pm and it was HOT! The Visitor Center has wonderfully cold AC and convenient water fountains with bottle fillers. We refilled ALL our 8 or so water bottles before moving on.


Once we left the Pinnacles Entrance of the Badlands, we headed north to Wall, South Dakota, home of Wall Drug.

Wall Drug: This store has quite an advertising campaign going on up and down I-90. Wall Drug is THE "free ice water store". It's like a mini mall with store after store after store all housed within one building.

We got our free ice water and our souvenir South Dakota Christmas ornament before heading back to Keystone for the night.

Sylvan Lake, Custer State Park, South Dakota: We took 224 to 87 and entered Custer State Park again. This time we entered the fee area. It was $20 admission. Once again, we were just going to drive through so the fee seemed a bit ridiculous. But as it turns out, we spent quite a bit of time in the park...again.


Sylvan Lake was the first place we came to and we had to stop. There was no way we could see this and not stop.  A trail took us around the entire lake.

We could have easily spent a few days in this park!

Wind Cave National Park: Coming out of Custer State Park, we automatically wound up in Wind Cave National Park. Here were sweeping prairies and bison! Lots and lots of bison!


We still had a long 6 hour drive back to Colorado, but we were certainly able to pack a lot into a 2-night stay in South Dakota. There is so much more to see there than we originally thought and we definitely plan to return.



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Love Notes Jar - "The Many Reasons Why I Love You"


A couple (or three) years ago, I stumbled across a Valentine's Day craft by Nicole of Visual Heart for "52 Things I Love About You" made from a deck of cards. It was clever and fun and since Valentine's Day was months away, I pinned it for later and promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward to the present. Mr. LH had been feeling down in the dumps. He began questioning himself at work and home and his self-confidence needed a bit of a pick-me-up. He tends to be a pretty sentimental guy and I knew the "52 Things I Love About You" craft would be something he would appreciate. Except I couldn't stop at 52. The more reasons I wrote down, the more reasons I thought of to add.

Sappy reasons.
Serious reasons.
Funny reasons.
For-His-Eyes-Only reasons.

It was too many to make into a deck (or three) of cards. I wound up with over 300 before I started actually thinking of how to incorporate all these "Love Notes" into something both attractive to look at as well as convenient and easy to read.

Someone had suggested putting their reasons into a jar on slips of folded paper. I liked that idea but instead of paper, I decided to use wooden nickels.

A couple years ago I started a "Date Reminder" project using wooden nickels (I'll get around to posting about this some time. I actually finally finished the project only a few months ago). The nickels each had a name and an important date (birthday, anniversary, etc) printed on colorful paper and decoupaged to each side. That same idea would work well here. I could write "I Love You Because..." on one side and have my reason on the other.

I had several other prompts as well:

"I Love You Because..."
"I Love..."
"You Are..."
"You Make Me Feel..."
"I Thank You For..."

Those prompts made it easier to come up with so many reasons. I also added some quotes as well as short happy memories from our past. Those just had a heart on one side with the quote or memory on the back.

I purchased Wooden Nickels on Amazon. I found bags of 200 wooden nickels and bought 2 bags of them. You can also purchase bags of 100 nickels.

I made a template on PowerPoint for 1-1/2 inch circles, the diameter of the wooden nickels, and began typing in all my prompts and reasons.

Everything was printed out onto scrapbook paper (make sure your fronts and backs match) and then cut them out. I would highly recommend you invest in a 1.5" circle punch if you do not already have one. This tool made quick work of all those circles. I can't even imagine having to cut all those out by hand!!!

The next step was to get all those wooden nickels ready. The edges were painted with white acrylic paint. Spray paint would have been much faster but I already had the acrylic paint available and I was impatient to get started (and not having to buy something else is a "win" in my book). A sponge brush worked much better that a paint brush for this.

I would paint about 50 circles at a time (over long sheets of wax paper). By the time I finished painting the batch, the first ones were dry enough to Mod Podge all those little circle cutouts to the wooden nickels.

  1. Brush a light coating of Mod Podge onto the wood surface.
  2. Place the paper circle on the wooden nickel and adjust it so it is even all the way around.
  3. Press a bit on the paper then Mod Podge over the paper being sure to cover the sides and the entire top.

I did a couple coats of Mod Podge per side. 2 or 3 light coats are better than one thick coat.


The paper circles were just a smidgen larger than the wooden circles so I trimmed them down with an exacto knife. This took a while with so many circles, but it was a nice semi-mindless activity to do while watching TV (but you are still wielding a sharp object so pay attention!).

Once trimmed, I did another coat of Mod Podge on both sides and let it sit and cure/dry for several hours. Mod Podge can tend to be a bit tacky to the touch even after drying. This causes them to stick together which can ruin your project. To prevent this, I placed all the circles in my food dehydrator for a day. They came out very dry and I have had no issues with them sticking together since then.

Colorado is a very arid region. If you live in a more humid area, or if you don't have access to a food dehydrator, you can them give your circles a top coat with clear acrylic polyurethane sealer.

Another critical part of this project was finding the right jar. It had to be big enough to hold all the wooden nickels, wide enough to easily reach into without worrying about tipping the jar and attractive enough to have out all the time. I originally thought I'd use a large half-gallon mason jar, but it seemed more rustic than what I was going for (I'm country/traditional and Mr. LH has more modern/contemporary taste) and I wasn't sure the opening would be wide enough for Mr. LH's arm.


I wound up finding a glass vase at Joann Fabric and Crafts for $19.99 (only $10 with a coupon!). It had a wide opening and thick sides. The top was also angled so it seemed to invite you to reach into it. And all 340-something wooden nickels fit into it (with a little room to spare)!


My sentimental guy loved it!

And you know what? It's not just for him. If I ever get mad at him for whatever reason, I can reach into the jar and remind myself of all those reasons I fell in love with him and why he's still the one.



DISCLOSURE: This post may contain monetized affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Little House In Colorado.