Playing Tourist

My family liked to joke about playing tourist on vacations while I was growing up, particularly during one especially memorable trip to Europe when I was ten. We spent two weeks touring the lush countryside of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. As a fair haired family of four and with my parents both relatively fluent in German, we were usually able to blend in with the locals, avoiding the pointed eye rolls reserved for obnoxious tourons.

However, there were moments throughout the trip when being a dumb tourist had its advantages, when coming across the foreign lettering of a “No Photography Allowed” sign for instance. It wasn’t until recently that I began to consider this as an important life skill. All amusing linguistic loopholes aside, there’s something fabulous about being able to recognize new joy even in your own home, with all the wonder of a wide eyed tourist. 

Wherever you go, it’s never a bad idea to have a camera handy at all times. You never know what you might see. Do you take time to notice the magic in your world? Go ahead and gape upon familiar sights as if beholding them for the very first time and don’t be afraid to snap a few pictures.

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Home is in the Details

People like to say that home is where the family is. This is absolutely true. However, after relocating three states away from my own family, I’ve come to a revised definition. Home is where the pretty hand towels are. It’s in the Jan Brett details that remind you of loved ones who are far away. Here is my list of details that turned my one bedroom apartment into a home. 

  1. Hearts – My mom has dozens of these scattered throughout my childhood home. I tried to number them once but had to start over twice because I lost count in my search for each of my mom’s hidden hearts.
  2. Nutcrackers – It’s the little touches of Christmas that make a place feel warm and cozy all year long. Even when the holiday decorations have been put away; the ornaments carefully tucked into bubble wrap sleeves and returned to their boxes, my nutcracker remains. He keeps a constant watch over my tiny living room, lighting my home with a painted lantern held aloft in his left hand. His snowy white hair and beard are welcome reminders of a time when jolly old saint Nick will visit again. 
  3. Books – Specifically, the books that my dad read to my sister and I as kids. The Lord of the Rings was our favorite. I proudly display a tattered paperback set on my little shelf. It’s the same set that my sister took with her to Alaska one summer when she worked on a fishing boat. These books have been places and are the same copies I turn to when I need to go home. Even now, all grown up, the characters still speak to me through my dad’s voice.
  4. Scrapbooks – Just like the living portraits at Hogwarts, I can see my friends and family shuffling into position in front of the camera before someone snapped the photos. All the people I love and all the ones I used to be wave and smile up at me from glossy pages. 
  5. Twinkle Lights – I believe the official term is ‘fairy lights’ but in our house we always made sure to switch on the ‘twinkle lights’ that sparkled atop the old upright piano when the Sun dipped behind the mountains in the evenings.
  6. Rocks – Over the years, my family has collected buckets of smoothed discs and pebbles from distant shores and mountain tops. It’s become a tradition to send each other small stones from our travels, wherever we might go. I love to tell people where all my rocks came from. They are pieces of home wrapped in good memories. 

What details do you cherish in your home? Share in the comments.

POTD: Those Aren’t Raspberries!

You learn something new everyday. I’ve run past these a few times every week throughout the summer and watched them grow from tiny green buds on their thorny stalks. Having grown up plucking raspberries off the bushes in my mom’s garden I assumed that’s what these were. I had no idea this was the land of wild blackberries. It’s always exciting to make new discoveries, even small ones that make you think of home. 

Miracles Among the Ashes

Tucked away in the grand halls of Glenwood Canyon there has always been a crystal blue lake twinkling high in the limestone cliffs. Hanging Lake is a beloved gem of Glenwood Springs, Colorado and a destination for tourists and locals alike. After a 1.5 mile hike and 734 feet of elevation gain, one look into its glassy depths is enough to understand why. 

Photo by Bryce Bradford from Flikr

However, Glenwood locals hold their breath as the Grizzly Creek Fire rages on around Hanging Lake, home to countless fond childhood memories. The fire has so far miraculously passed over the lake, leaving its immediate surroundings untouched. Please send your thoughts and prayers to Colorado and the firefighters who are working tirelessly to tame both the Grizzly Creek and Pine Gulch fires. 

POTD: Wooed by Indiana

When people from Indiana hear that I relocated from Colorado it usually triggers an incredibly emphatic and genuine “WHY?!” They are flabbergasted that anyone would intentionally leave the snow capped peaks of Colorado for the flat greenery of Indiana. I understand this to a degree. The Colorado mountains command a unique majesty that is sought after across the globe and in many ways, nothing will ever compare. I will always be a mountain girl and a piece of my heart will always belong in Colorado.

However, despite the lack of open Indiana pride among the locals, my new home is not without its charm. One of the ladies in my shooting league recommended Sunset Hill Farm as a great place to go running so, having no plans on a beautiful Saturday night, I decided to check it out. This particular expedition turned out to be as much about rediscovering nature (again) as it was about actual exercise. It was more of an interval workout as I spent half the time gaping up at the chaos of vines and branches and huge emerald leaves that made the canopy overhead. The foliage was so dense in places that the path was more like a tunnel buzzing with life, fresh and green. 

There will never come a day when I don’t crave the awe inspiring views of Colorado. There’s no sensation quite like standing on top of the world and looking out, completely humbled at your small part in a world of such magnificent proportion and grandeur. I will always be wowed by Colorado but on this June evening, I was wooed by Indiana. 

POTD: Walkin’ on Sunshine

This photo was taken on one of my first outdoor runs through the neighborhood this year at about seven o’clock in the evening as it was some of the first sunshine of the season. Watching this beautiful sunset it felt like the universe was saying “welcome to the neighborhood,” especially after months of nothing but grey cloud cover. Despite a deep love of hiking and the great outdoors, my work schedule and a slew of extracurricular activities made it difficult to find time to actually be outside. 

I’m glad I chose this evening to reintroduce myself to the fresh air. While I can’t wait to completely immerse myself in nature with a good hike, on some days it makes more sense to enjoy a short run close to home. It’s nice to be reminded every now and then that you don’t always have to go hunting for new trails in order to be refreshed by the great outdoors. Sometimes the sights right in your backyard can be just as magical. 

POTD: A Bookshelf Where the TV Would Go

People are always surprised when they come to visit and discover that I don’t own a television. However, in place of a fancy flat screen I have a small rickety bookshelf laden with an impressive, albeit incomplete, Tolkien collection, the beginning of a Brandon Sanderson addiction and every published book by Sarah Addison Allen. These are accompanied by a smattering of family recommended reads, backbreaking college textbooks and well intentioned self help books. I have a long way to go to achieve my life long dream of becoming someone with too many books but we all have to start somewhere. 

While I enjoy the occasional Netflix binge, I’m excited for the day that I need a bigger bookshelf. Someday I will graduate from apartment living and settle in a nice home with a yard and a dog (and a series of turrets and secret passages if my fairy godmother is feeling generous). But one thing this future dream home must have is a library, preferable doubling as a cozy study where every wall is lined from floor to ceiling with stories of every length and genre. I can’t wait! What books do you keep in your hobbit’s study? When it comes to reading lists, there’s always room to grow.