Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Beautiful Catskills

In case you missed it, about a month ago I wrote a post on my blog about Matt and I's favorite relaxing getaway, The Roxbury Motel. It's such a special place to us, and not just because the Roxbury is the epitome of all perfection, but because we're completely in love with the Catskills. Nearly every single time I tell people that Matt and I are going to the Catskills, I get a strange look of confusion. Folks here in Michigan generally don't know much about New York, let alone what the Catskills has to offer.

To be honest, I really didn't know what was even out that way until we first visited in 2011. After three trips, Matt and I have pretty much become experts on the area... or so we tell ourselves. It's so INCREDIBLY beautiful out that way, and such a different change of scenery from the flat farmland in Southwest Michigan. I seriously get so excited whenever we drive around a curve and there's a new beautiful view of the mountains. Matt and I could be on a commercial with how much we point and shout, "Look at that!" 



The best way to really take in the Catskills is to get up close and personal. Matt and I have a blast hiking out in New York. We've done some fairly easy hikes, and we've also taken on a hike that made me just wanna sit my butt down on the trail and let Matt go ahead without me. Walking uphill for hours just isn't my cup of tea. Despite my exhausted limbs, the payoff is always worth it. Watching Matt identify birds and be Mr. Mountain Man is a blast. Plus, reaching the summit is always a surreal experience that I never forget.



Hiking is great because it's cheap entertainment. However, we've also done some costly tourist things as well. On our first trip to New York we drove over to Hunter Mountain and went on the highest, fastest, and longest zipline in North America. It was the craziest thing we've probably ever done together. After we got our gear on and went through all of the safety training with the rest of the group, we walked out to the first zip and volunteered to go before anyone else. I remember us looking over at each other, saying, "I love you", and running off the edge. Last year, we drove out to New York a different way than we usually go (the southern route), which allowed us to hit up Niagara Falls and ride Maid of the Mist. Even though I had seen the falls in person back in 2006, I dreamt of actually getting to experience them up close. We both hate the Niagara area because it's very touristy, so driving into the city just to ride Maid of the Mist and then get the heck out of there, was perfect for us.



Matt and I volunteered at a farm animal sanctuary back in 2011, and we're going to spend some time there again during our upcoming trip. The sanctuary is near Woodstock, which is a place that we absolutely love visiting because our favorite vegan restaurant is there in town. The sanctuary has been home to some very loving and unique farm animals. We've seen a rooster with boots and a sheep with a wheelchair. We got chased by a herd of goats so we could get them to move from one area of the property to another. Perhaps my favorite memory is when Matt and I were cleaning up the feeding area for the pigs, when one huge pig walked over to me and decided it didn't like a clean eating space, so it knocked over my whole bucket of foods scraps that I'd collected. All I could do was smile and laugh.



New York has so many awesome things to do, see, and most importantly, eat. Yes, eating is a favorite daily event of ours when we're in New York. It's nearly impossible to find a chain restaurant out that way, which allows Matt and I to find new places to eat all of the time. We constantly go back to our favorite places... Peekamoose Restaurant, Public Lounge, and Garden Cafe on the Green. Matt and I have a tradition that started on the first night of our first trip to The Roxbury Motel. We order a huge olive loaded pizza from Vasta's, and eat it while relaxing with a movie. It's perfect after a long travel day. We've decided to take a picnic lunch with us on a hike to Kaaterskill Falls in a few weeks, which is something I've wanted to do since our first hike there. It's fun and I get to save money. Win win.

Anyhoo, I'll be sure to share lots of stories and pictures when we get back from New York at the end of May. It's gonna be a good time.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Catskills Treasure: The Roxbury Motel

On May 25th, Matt and I will be celebrating our 7th anniversary. Crazy, right?! Just saying it makes me feel old, even though I know that I'm not. Matt and I ventured off to New York last year to ring in 6 years. We are completely obsessed with New York. Our first trip to New York together was all the way back in 2006. However, it was a miserable trip. I was very sick and the weather completely sucked.

When Matt's brother graduated from Syracuse University in 2011, we decided to make a vacation out of it. Matt told me to start looking up hotels and fun things to do in the Adirondacks and Catskills. I was having a very hard time finding any hotel or B&B that didn't have wood paneling in the former. Discouraged, I went to Google and typed in "catskills lodging." When my eyes saw the phrase "Catskills boutique motel", I got excited. Once I actually clicked on the website, I was hooked. I remember calling up Matt right away and telling him that we "absolutely have to stay there." And we did. Then again in 2012... and in 2013.

You can probably guess that Matt and I are basically obsessed with The Roxbury at this point. We're also very much in love with the Catskills. The Roxbury is like this contemporary dream world in the middle of a sleepy mountain town. The cool thing is that the dream setting changes every time we visit.

Here are some pictures from our first trip to The Roxbury. We stayed in "The Wizard's Emeralds."



Our second trip to The Roxbury Motel was in the fall of 2012. For this stay, we got to enjoy the "Genie's Bottle" suite. There was a small dining and kitchen area that connected to a living space, two bedrooms, and a genie bottle shaped bathroom. Yes! The walls are curved in the bathroom! It's such an incredible suite, and Matt and I are so thankful that we got to experience it. Matt didn't even mind all the pink. :) 



Last May, Matt and I stayed in THREE rooms over the course of our stay. We stayed in one of the smallest rooms for one night, a massive stand alone cottage called "The Archeologist's Digs" for another night, and a Breakfast at Tiffany's inspired room for the next few nights. "The Digs" is inspired by adventure and films like Indiana Jones. There is a living room, dining area, full kitchen, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an outdoor shower, and a deck. It's absolutely incredible! As soon as we checked into the cottage I told Matt, "I'm going to take a shower outside! I've always wanted to say that!" It was so much fun! We made friends with the fish that protect Cleopatra (then showered next to them), slept in a bed that was once lost in a typhoon in the Indian Ocean, and spied on each other in a secret mineshaft cave. Where else in the WORLD can you do that in a freakin' hotel room? It's safe to say that every room that we've stayed in is so memorable. No two trips to The Roxbury are ever the same. There's always something new to be explored.



We've gotten to tour some rooms that we've never stayed in (but would like to) during our previous visits. Next month, we'll be staying in two rooms that we haven't experienced yet! One is a Flintstones themed room, and the other is a suite called "Noir Boudoir" which is reminiscent of a Victorian-era mansion, complete with spooky elements that'll make you think you're staying with The Addams Family. Here are some pictures of rooms that we have gotten to peek inside of.



I honestly don't think that Matt and I can fully explain why we love this place so much. We're so insanely thankful that this place exists, and it has become something very special to us. Sometimes, out of no where at all Matt will say to me, "I miss The Roxbury..." Usually what follows is a half hour conversation about what we want to do and see the next time that we go back out there. Maybe that should be my next blog post... why we love the Catskill Mountains.



Saturday, February 22, 2014

Collect Moments, Not Things

Last week, on a flight to Detroit from Orlando, my husband and I began discussing the blueprint for our upcoming adventures. On the back of my boarding pass I began noting all of the places that Matt and I want to visit and things we want to see. I had to lay it all out by month so I didn't get overwhelmed with all of the possibilities.

The list consisted of the following places... The Roxbury Motel in Roxbury, NY (yes, again), Bethel Woods (Woodstock Festival location), Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Brooklyn, Disneyland, Yosemite, Yellowstone (to fulfill my dream of seeing the buffalo), and the Bay of Fundy in Canada.

Looking at the list, all I can see are dollar signs. I get overwhelmed until I remember that we can do this, because... we've always done this. This is our life. We don't buy fancy cars, televisions, video games, or expensive clothes. One could argue that we don't buy those things because we aren't wealthy people, but in reality, it's just not us.

I went through that phase in high school. The phase where I thought that what I wore was going to make me happy. That it was going to matter to me and to everyone else in my circle. Then I met Matt, and he made me happy. Together, we learned that being with one another, seeing new places, and learning new things made us more happy than any $200 pair of shoes could. Now, I'm not faulting anyone that finds true joy in having "things", it just isn't for me.

I always think about what is going to stand out as something significant in my life when the end is near for me. I don't think I'm going to look back and remember a $100 pair of jeans that I just had to have. I'm not going to remember the insanely large television I purchased. I'm going to look back on times I spent with the people I love, doing things that I love.

For me, traveling is like breathing. I need it. I need to meet new people. I need to see things I've never seen before. I need to become more cultured. It's probably because I didn't get to do a lot of things when I was kid. I grew up in southwest Michigan... home of farmland and many close-minded individuals. My parents weren't wealthy monetarily, despite being very hard workers. We didn't go on vacations as a family. We went to car shows. All of my wonderful memories of my family as a whole before my dad passed away are from car shows where we showed off our '55 Chevy Bel Air.



When I got a little older, I learned that the world is MASSIVE. I discovered that there were kids in other countries that had almost nothing, and I would constantly ask my mom if we could go visit them or send them things that they needed. I learned that some cities were so big that skyscrapers had to be built to fit everyone. All of these things excited me and made me so damn eager to see and do it all.

Finally, I'm an adult that CAN see it all. I CAN do it all. I CAN meet incredible people and share life stories. I'm so grateful for every single adventure, big and small, that I've experienced. I've met people that have changed my life. I've seen things that have opened my eyes and brought me clarity. My dad's death put the fear of an "end" in my life. I've always had this sense of urgency. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed, so if I don't do what I want right now... I may never get to.

I will always, ALWAYS, be a "little things" kind of person.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wreck-It Stacey

I did something that I'm both very nervous about AND very excited about!

I ordered a book called, "Wreck This Journal." The premise is to start with this lovely, clean journal, and destroy the crap out of it. You have to destory it by following the prompts in the book. Every page has an instruction, and it is your job to interpret the instructions as you wish. You are told to do fun things like spill and spit your coffee out onto a page, and run over the book with your car. How incredibly fun does that sound?!


The book requires following rules and exercising creativity. This scares the poop outta me. It's not that I don't believe I'm creative, it's just that I'm really hard on myself when it comes to actually exercising creativity.

The pressure I feel to be something "great" is so intense that I often just cave and choose to give up, hoping that it means I won't fail at being my best. It's a horrific personality trait that I have, but I think this book is going to help me.

I've already watched some YouTube videos of people wrecking their journal, and already I feel I'll be less than wonderfully creative. It seems that being "less than" is a common fear of mine, and something that I believe I am. I have a hard time songwriting, because I compare myself to songwriters that I admire. Clearly, I don't live up to that. I have a hard time looking in the mirror some days without judging this, that, and the other. I remember not having that feeling as a kid. I'd sit on my swing set with my diary and write songs every single day in the summer. I never feared that I sucked. I'd make my own jewelry and wear it out in public without fear of judgement. It's weird how being an adult can change you.

I'm hoping that by using this journal I'll be able to tap into my creative side, and eventually come to realize that there is no right or wrong. Hopefully I'll stop comparing myself to others and finally see that I'm totally awesome if I just let go.

Bring it on weird theraputic journal!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Prototypical

It's a big day in the music world that surrounds me! Stine Bramsen released her first solo single!

Who is Stine Bramsen? You don't know?! Okay, time for some backstory.

Back in about 2007 or 2008, my awesome friend, Ed, told me that I needed to listen to a Danish pop group called Alphabeat. He knows my musical taste better than I do, and he was positive I'd go bananas over this band. ...he was right.

The band became this quick love for me that has never seemed to fade out. Alphabeat has a sound that really can't be compared to anything that I've heard before. Their three albums are all quite different from each other, which I like. They aren't afraid to experiment with new sounds, and they don't let themselves get pigeonholed into making just one type of music. I think the variety of music that they put out really reflects how talented they all are.

Alphabeat has been very popular and well known throughout Europe, but not as much here in the States. Back when the Spice Girls were planning their big reunion tour, they asked Alphabeat to open for them. Such a huge deal. However, Alphabeat turned the opportunity down. They also were asked by Katy Perry to open for her, which would have included shows in the States. I believe that due to scheduling issues, they had to back out of it.

The group has two lead vocalists, one of which is the only female in the band, Stine Bramsen. This chick's voice completely and utterly blows me away. I don't know how that powerful voice can come out of such a small person! Her upper register is so impressive because it doesn't sound like anyone else's. She's so unique in pop music. Plus, she's got such fierce style and is insanely beautiful.

While Alphabeat is taking a little break (the didn't break up, thank God), Stine decided to try her hand at a solo album. Of course, I completely lost my mind hearing this news... as did my husband, Matt. Stine's first single is actually out TODAY! Yes! FINALLY! The song is called "Prototypical", and really reminds me of edgy European pop music, with a touch of Adele. Her voice quite bluesy, and I am so thankful that on the single her voice sounds like she does live. Matt and I cannot stop listening to this song and singing it around the house.

My friends, you need to experience this girl's talent. To listen to the single and purchase it, go to www.stinebramsen.com, or find it on iTunes.


Matt and I have seriously talked about how much it would be to travel to Denmark to see her live. It's a far fetched dream at the moment, so I can only hope that she comes to the States to do a show. Matt and I have already decided we'll fly anywhere in the U.S. to see her. There are very few musicians that we feel THAT hardcore about. When we got our dog, Ellie, we decided to give her the middle name Stine, since we wanted to name her after an interest that we had in common. Stine, you should feel super honored that we love you that much. :p

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Happy Crier

I spent the day home sick. I've actually been sick, but realized last night that I had a sinus infection that was getting worse and worse. After a day of rest, fluids, PM Care, antibiotics, and Disney movies, I am hoping that I will feel better soon.

I woke up at 5am and couldn't get back to sleep, so I just laid in bed watching videos on my phone. A few hours later, I decided to watch A Goofy Movie clips. More specifically, Max's musical performances as, and with Powerline. Tears started to stream down my face... out of joy! I was smiling the biggest smile, yet I was crying.

Then after my doctor's appointment, Matt and I stopped at my mom's to let Colonel outside and grab some Disney movies. While we were there, I saw a Ladies Home Journal sitting there, so I picked it up and flipped it open. The first thing I saw was a little Q&A with Sarah Michelle Gellar. She was asked who makes her star struck. Sarah said Kelly Clarkson, followed by really nice words about how down-to-earth she is. I then tried to read it out loud to Matt, but got choked up as I started speaking. It just made me so happy to hear someone say things publicly about Kelly that I've always appreciated. Matt's reaction? "You are really emotional today." Duh.

Just a few minutes ago, my fav singing duo, JillandKate, posted a video of them singing a new song that they just wrote. It's about "a good relationship where people make life easier for each other." It immediately made me think of Matt and I's relationship. Not every second of marriage is sunshine and rainbows, but when it's good... it's really good. I always tell Matt that I'm so thankful that I'm married to my absolute best friend. God, I feel crazy cheesy right now, but it's true. Matt walked over and leaned down near me as I'm laying on the couch listening to the song for the second time, and I STARTED CRYING! I mean, full on, tears streaming down my face, and sniffling.

Today is just a warm fuzzy kind of day, I suppose. And you know what? I don't hate it. I actually LOVE it. Never ever will I be embarrassed that I'm happy about something, because life is a huge struggle sometimes, and I'll take any little pick-me-up that I can get.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Dearest Dexter Morgan

There are two types of people... TV people, and movie people.

I'm a TV person.

It's not that I don't enjoy movies, because I do, it's just that my attention span is often times very short, so television tends to work well for me. I remember when television shows started coming out on VHS and DVD. My world felt forever changed. I remember the first show I owned on VHS... Pee Wee's Playhouse. Soon after that, DVDs were becoming popular and a family member bought me a five episode DVD of "Friends." That REALLY changed my life.

A while back, Matt and I got into the television show "Dexter" that aired on Showtime. We started season one on Netflix, and continued watching the rest of the series either on Showtime as it aired, or on Netflix later to catch up. We have caught up on the last two seasons of Dexter in the last two weeks, and it has been really enjoyable.

If you don't know anything about the show, it's about a blood spatter analyist, Dexter, who also is a secret seriel killer. He doesn't just kill anyone. He kills people who murder innocent people. The series is really about him trying to co-exist in the world with humans that aren't psychopaths like him.

During the eight seasons, the show had a lot of ups and downs. Some seasons seemed nearly perfect in every way, like seasons four and seven. Sadly, one of the weakest seasons has been the final season. However, it's such a fantastic show overall.

What I think is so brilliant about Dexter, is that it has the audience rooting for a seriel killer. It really messes with the human mind and what we've been taught is right. It makes me toy the idea that if Dexter were a real person, would I support him?

If you haven't seen the final episode of the series, don't read any further than this. SPOILERS AHEAD, got it?!

While there were some really unrealistic and flat out ridiculous happenings in the final episode, I am overall really okay with where everyone ended up. Matt really wished for more of happy ending, but I live in a realistic world. Yes, Quinn not even mentioning his previous hunch of Dexter having a dark side when he saw the video of Dexter killing Saxon was bananas. Yes, Dexter rolling Deb's body out of the busy hospital and onto his boat is the most unrealistic thing I've seen in the entire show. And yes, the fact that no one saw Hannah use a horse tranquilizer on a bus doesn't make any sense.

Despite all of that nonsense, Dexter's isolation from the entire world he knew before is brilliant. Deb's death made him finally realize just how much damage he's done to everyone around him. Because he finally became less of a monster, and more of a human, he eventually admitted to himself that he can have geniune feelings toward other people. Because of how much he loved Hannah and Harrison, he knew he had to protect them. As Dexter said, all he wanted for the longest time was to feel what other people felt, and when he finally did he just wanted it to stop. Where Dex ended up is truly the worst type of torture for him.

I think that the writers really had a tough job on their hands in terms of wrapping Dexter up in a way that pleased the audience as a whole. I keep reading blog articles slamming the finale, but no one has a suggestion for an alternate ending that would have been any better. Killing off Dexter would have left an icky taste in a lot of people's mouths. Especially given the fact that Dexter is actually quite a likeable character. Dexter ending up in prison would have seemed too obvious, leaving the thought, "why didn't he get caught before now?"

I don't know if anyone has noticed, but the progression of Dexter's character is the opposite of Walter White's transformation in Breaking Bad. While Dexter started as a monster who became more human, Walt started as a selfless human that eventually became a twisted, self-serving monster. I really think comparing the two shows is like comparing apples to oranges. I'm sure a ton of people disagree with me though.

If you've seen Dexter at all, I'd really like to hear your thoughts about the show, and the ending if you've seen it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

This is hard. ...That's What She Said.

Every single day since I started this blog, I've been struggling to figure out what my first "like" should be.  For some dumb reason, I feel that it needs to be poignant, or say a lot about me as a person.

In reality... it doesn't.

I have to jump into it without thinking too much about it, since every day I think about five things that I want to write about.  If I keep going at this pace, I'll never make progress.

I'm going to Walt Disney World in a month with my husband and our two friends.  To make the countdown to vacation fun, I made a list of 30 Disney movies that I want to watch before the trip.  Disney films remind me of my childhood, of Walt Disney, and of the parks' attractions.  Disney films are just a pure JOY to watch.


My oldest niece, Brooke, wrote me before Christmas and asked what my favorite Disney movies are.  I was stumped.  It took me a good amount of time to determine this, and I'm STILL not sure I got it right.    Here's what I wrote to Brooke... 

In no order... Hercules, Up, Tangled, Monsters, Inc., A Goofy Movie, and Cinderella 

I assumed she only wanted animated films, so that's what I came up with.  I can say with 100% certainty that "Up" is my #1 favorite.  After that... I have no idea what the order would be.  They're all quite different from each other, and I like each one for different reasons.  

Is "Up" one of the saddest movies I've ever seen?  Yes.  Is it one of the happiest movies I've ever seen? Yes.  The characters are BRILLIANT.  If my future child has even 25% of the sweet spunk that Russell has, I'd be so lucky.  Visually, the movie is so insanely beautiful.  The tie sequence is the best thing I've ever laid eyes on in a Disney film.  I also love when the house is floating past the kids' bedroom.  The balloons are so vivid as they float past behind the kid.  I'm getting legitimately excited talking about this now.  Moving on...

I remember the very first time that I saw Hercules.  My mom bought the VHS, and I sat in my living room with my brother and mom as we watched together.  I was sitting on the floor when the movie ended.  The three of us started dancing and singing, and I remember asking my mom to rewind it so we could watch it again.  The music is really what sucked me into Hercules.  "Go the Distance" is truly the most uplifting and inspiring song of any Disney movie, at least in my book.  Meg's solo song, "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)", is sung by one of my favorite voices EVER, Susan Egan.  Without a doubt, Hades is my favorite Disney villain.  He's absolutely hilarious and sinister all at the same time.

I didn't see Tangled until about a year after it came out.  I'm not sure why I waited so long.  Tangled has a special place in my heart, because I can identify with Rapunzel.  She's a bird, cooped up in a cage.  Rapunzel has this gut feeling that there is somewhere else that she belongs.  She's so spunky and adventurous!  I could go on and on about her... but I won't.  Then I'll sound obsessed... which I am.

Monsters, Inc., had me from the first time I saw it.  It's one of those movies I can watch at any time, and it will make me laugh so hard.  The little girl, Boo, just melts my heart.  The animators really captured the sweet innocence of a child with her character.  It makes me feel so happy that my youngest niece is obsessed with Monsters, Inc.  One of these days, she'll get to meet her favorite monster, Sully, and I'm sure I'll be nearby watching... and crying.

Okay, guys... A Goofy Movie.  My crush.  No, not Goofy... Max. I always wished that there was a guy back in middle school that was just like Max Goof.  He makes a total fool out of himself to try and impress a girl, yet still manages to come off so charming.  My favorite thing about A Goofy Movie, is Max and Goofy's relationship.  It always reminded me of my relationship with my mom.  Sometimes your parent embarrasses you beyond all belief, but you know that they love you more than anything, and will do anything for you.  I like watching Max learn to be proud of having Goofy as his dad.

Last, but not least, my favorite Disney classic, Cinderella.  I remember dressing up as Cinderella for Halloween when I was five.  I did not want to take that dress off.  It was the first time that I ever got a taste of what it would be like to be a Disney princess.  To this day, watching the movie reminds me that dreams can come true.  It sounds so cheesy, I know.  Cinderella was always kicked while she was down, and she still never gave up hope that a better life was possible for her.