9 DIY Ideas for a Nautical Bridal Shower

My sweet sister, Allie, is getting married next summer! We thought we’d kick of the celebrations with an early bridal shower to celebrate. My amazing aunts hosted the shower at my mom’s house. One aunt put on a show-stopping, mouth watering meal, and the other was in charge of decorations. Guess who jumped at the opportunity to help with decorations…. I love love love all things weddings and showers, and I rarely say no to a themed party.

Allie and her fiance, Derek, love sailing. They took their engagement pictures on my dad’s sailboat, and are getting married by the water with a subtle nautical theme. We knew that with a shower, we could have some fun with more nautical-inspired decorations and get away with it! Here are 9 DIY ideas for a nautical themed wedding shower (or wedding!)

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Northern Michigan Beer & Wine Color Tour, Petoskey & Harbor Springs

We’ve had a beautiful fall here in Michigan, almost a little too beautiful. James and I love crisp, cool air in the fall. But last weekend we had perfect weather for exploring Northern Michigan’s wineries and breweries! My family and extended family have done a Beer & Wine Color Tour for the last two years, making this our third annual tour. I have to say, my uncle, aunt, and cousin nailed the wine tour itinerary this year.

Saturday morning, we loaded up my uncle’s motorhome, affectionally named “The Bus”, with waters, snacks, beer, spiced cider and of course cider mill doughnuts. Here’s what we got up to!

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Wine Tasting Tour on Mountain Bikes in Gibbston Valley, Queenstown

I want to start off by saying: I love Queenstown. It’s definitely one of my favorite places in New Zealand. I’ve travelled to Queenstown in the winter and in the summer, and it’s hard to say which I love more. It’s also really hard to write and discuss ALL the reasons I love Queenstown and ALL the activities I recommend in one post, so I think I’m going to have to write a short series! I’m going to start it off with my favorite – or one of my favorites, I have a hard time with favorites – wine tasting along the Gibbston River Trail.

Just a few months after James and I were married and starting my fifth year living in New Zealand, my two best friends visited us New Zealand for 10-days. We spent time on both the North and South Island, and we spent 2-3 of those days in Queenstown.

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DIY Indoor/Outdoor Dog Kennel

If you know us or read our blog, you probably know about River. He’s  our darling fur baby, a 1-year old German Shorthair Pointer. He requires a lot of exercise, and James hated keeping him in a crate all day. And when we got home, he was just bursting with energy – he was like a tornado. We recently moved out to the country and decided to build him an indoor/outdoor dog kennel! Somewhere where he could seek shelter, stretch his legs, go to the bathroom and chew on sticks – safely and securely.

We did some research, but couldn’t find what we were looking for. James has a vision for this sort of thing and he whipped out this dog kennel in less than 2-days. Got a jumper? A digger? We’ve done the problem solving for you! Check it out. Here’s what you’ll need:

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5 Key Points to Writing a Great Thank You Note

Fall is the season to give thanks for friends and family. I mean, of course you should be thankful all year round but I thought now was a good time to talk about it more. I was raised to write thank you notes, and not just “thank you” notes but also “I’m thinking of you” notes, for every and any occasion. I feel like it is so important to express your love and appreciation to the people in your life. You might just make somebody’s day.

I also love getting notes! Encouraging words from a friend, a congratulations notes from family, or a thank you note for a wedding gift. There’s definitely something sincere and sweet about a handwritten – or even typed – letter.

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3 of Our Favorite Hiking Trails, Auckland Region

Fall is right around the corner here in Michigan… which means New Zealand is heading into spring! James and I are planning our next trip to NZ and it’s got us thinking about our favorite hikes. James lived in Auckland most of his life, and I lived there for 4 years while at Uni. There were many weekends when we couldn’t manage a weekend away to Rotorua or elsewhere, but needed to bust out of the city and into the the outdoors – going on a hike was typically the answer.

The Hillary Trail through the Waitakere Ranges was our favorite hiking trail in Auckland. According to the Auckland Council, the full Hillary Trail is about 77kms and would take about 4-6-days to complete. Here’s a map from Auckland Council of the full trail, and their site also has information about accommodation  and safety if tackling the full Trail.

James and I have never done the full route, though it’s on our bucket list, we have done pieces of it. We’re not professionals. So maybe you don’t have 4-6 days to set aside, but you’re looking for a good day-hike. Here are three day (or few hour) hikes, which are pieces of this beautiful trail.

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DIY Two-Sided, Hanging Wooden Sign

I told you fall gives me DIY-vibes! Wooden signs are really having a moment, aren’t they? I love them. I think they are so warm and rustic, and add a personal touch to anywhere. I’ve wanted a wooden sign (or five) for our house for some time, but I thought, well, I can probably make one!

I’ve been staring at this metal post below all summer. Does it need a hanging basket? Should we just take it down? Maybe add flowers? James and I were brainstorming one day and we thought of it – a two sided, hanging, wooden sign with the name of our new home and property.

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How The Girl Met The Kiwi – Our Love Story

Going through photos of us in Rotorua the other day made me reminisce about our love story. We have quite the tale to tell, so I thought I’d share our story!

It started in January 2010. I was 17. I was ski instructing at the Otsego Club & Resort in Gaylord, Michigan, and the Vancouver Olympics were right around the corner. The whole club was buzzing with excitement because we had snowboarding teams from all over the world coming to train at OUR ski club!  It was pretty exciting, and our parents even took us out of school (I was in my Senior year of High School) for a long weekend.

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7 Adventures Not to Miss When in Rotorua

Rotorua is located on the North Island. James earliest lake memories are catching rainbow trout off the boat with his dad at Lake Rotoiti at their rented cabin. Now, James family has a cottage on the lake and when we lived in New Zealand we’d travel there basically every other weekend for lakeside adventures. James even proposed here, high on a cliff over looking Lake Rotoiti. When friends visited us in NZ, Rotorua always made the trip itinerary.

Rotorua is a geothermal area – you know when you’re close cause it might smell a bit of rotten eggs, but this is just the bubbling mud! It feels a bit like Jurassic Park.

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8 Painting Tips to Save Time & Money

Fall is in the air in Michigan! And with fall gives me all the DIY-vibes. (Seriously, as I’m writing this I have paintbrushes in the sink, concrete mix on the driveway, and a wood sign drying in the barn). In the summer I just want to be outside wandering in the sun or by the lake. But in the fall, I tend to want to cozy up and get elbows deep in hot-glue, yarn, wood, fabric, or paint.

In the last twenty four months, James and I have bought two fixer uppers. The first one a small bungalow and just as the paint dried, we bought a bigger house in the country. EVERY ROOM in both those houses needed painting. And we did all the painting ourselves (with the help of my family, of course). So, I learned a thing or two about painting in the last two years.

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