Visit Aurora in Southern Indiana

Visit Aurora in Southern Indiana

On our latest Explore Indiana adventure, we visited a 200-year-old city in Southern Indiana along the banks of the Ohio River. While heading to a soccer tournament in Cincinnati, we stopped for an afternoon to explore Aurora in Dearborn County. A few of the main tourist attractions are closed for winter (dang winter!), but luckily, Aurora is full of historic buildings, beautiful outdoor murals and quaint shops to visit. Hillforest Mansion Our first stop was Hillforest Mansion. It is closed for the season, but I still thought it was worth a peep. Completed in 1855 and built in the Italian Renaissance style, the mansion is now a national historic landmark and absolutely beautiful. As I love poking around old homes, this will have to be a re-visit next time I get down this way when it’s open for tours. Hillforest Mansion is a beautifully restored tourist attraction in Southern Indiana Downtown Aurora After snapping a few pictures of this gorgeous tourist attraction, we headed downtown. I parked the car (ample free street parking) to stroll the main street and see what we could discover. River towns are so interesting as they tend to be laid out so that the businesses head down towards the river versus the traditional Indiana downtown square. Aurora was incorporated in 1819, so they just celebrated their 200 year anniversary. Most of the downtown buildings have been carefully restored and maintained, which makes for captivating architecture. In addition to several large, eye-catching murals, there is a walking tour called the Windows of Aurora that show scenes of life in the early 1900s. Go to their...
5 Must-Do’s Before Your Next Disney Trip

5 Must-Do’s Before Your Next Disney Trip

Wondering how to begin planning your Disney trip? Whether you are planning your first or your fiftieth trip to Walt Disney World, there are certain things you must do to prepare. Taking a little time before you travel will improve the quality of your trip substantially. Are you ready to plan your Disney vacation? Here are my top 5 must-do’s before you leave home. Decide Upon a Budget I know it’s not exciting to think about how much you want to spend on your trip, but Disney can be EXPENSIVE. Once you are on vacation, it’s also really easy to let things slide and justify purchases you’d never make at home “because after all, we are on vacation.” Sound familiar? So, take even half an hour and think about what your spending limit is for areas like park tickets, food, lodging, extra activities, and souvenirs. Even if it’s a rough estimate, it gets you to start thinking critically about your expenditures which will help you think twice before making foolish purchases. Insider Tip: If you are looking for specific ways to save money for your next vacation (so you can do more!), check out my FREE guide 5 Tips to Help You Save Money for Your Next Vacation. Sign up for My Disney Experience when planning your vacation This website/app is a must for planning and executing your Disney vacation. It’s free, and you can start by signing up at My Disney Experience, but make sure to also download the app for your phone. Once you are in the parks, you can use the app on the go to...
What to Wear – Spring 2020 Edition

What to Wear – Spring 2020 Edition

It’s that time of year again! Time for a new Style Challenge – wondering what I’m talking about? It’s similar to a capsule wardrobe, but check out this short video for all the details: GYPO Style Challenges has helped over 6 thousand women from all over the world make getting dressed in the morning the easiest thing you’ll do all day! Want to learn more? The great news is the Spring 2020 GYPO Style Challenge just launched. The Style Challenge takes all the headache and guesswork out of shopping and trying to stay in fashion. You don’t need to worry about putting together outfits or if you’ll get enough wear to justify buying something. Every item on the seasonal shopping list is selected with intention and purpose. This means only buying pieces that you love and will wear over and over. And honestly, you likely have a lot of pieces in your closet you can use already, that’s a win for the budget! I know I’ve only purchased two tops and one pair of shoes (that I’ve been looking for several seasons now), for this challenge. You can register for the Spring 2020 GYPO Style Challenge for just $39 HERE. What’s included in the style challenge? You’ll get the following tools to help you on your style journey: A capsule wardrobe shopping list of on-trend items and classics basics (you’re free to shop where you want and spend as much or as little as you want!) Links to shop for recommended items online or in store (we’ve done the work for you by choosing items to suit every budget...
Winter Book Reviews

Winter Book Reviews

Are you looking for good books to read? I have done a fair amount of reading this winter – not as much as in previous years, but still a decent amount. I know many people who set a goal of reading x number of books in a year, but I’ve always been afraid that would take away the joy and relaxation for me. So, I just go through periods of reading a lot and times of reading a little less – regardless, I always have a few books going – just might take me longer to get through them during busy seasons of life. Here are my favorite books from my winter reading: Non-Fiction Book Reviews The Wellness Project was a book I just picked up at the library when I saw it on display and I’ve really enjoyed it. Reminiscent of The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, the author tackles one aspect of her health every month for a year. I love how at the end of each chapter, she shares a list of ideas for implementing some of these changes into her life. She’s also keen on not creating such a rigid routine in any area that she can’t enjoy life – which I feel is always a struggle when making lifestyle changes. There are recipes after each chapter which is a fun touch. My rating 4.5 out of 5. Fiction I just finished Cilka’s Journey, and like The Tattooist of Auschwitz (the first book in this series), it was challenging, upsetting and hopeful all at the same time. Cilka entered Auschwitz as a 16-year old Jewish...
Non-Skier? How to still enjoy a ski trip

Non-Skier? How to still enjoy a ski trip

How can a non-skier still enjoy a ski trip? Are you a non-skier in a family full of skiers? Or just someone who’s been invited along to a ski trip and aren’t thrilled with the idea of skiing every day? Or maybe you are like me, and love to ski, but don’t want to spend every minute of your vacation doing it. If any of those scenarios describe your situation, then this post is for you! Even though the main focus of a ski trip is skiing, there are almost always lots of other activities nearby for those family members who don’t ski. When we go skiing every year, we always sprinkle a few of these activities into the trip, but honestly, we could still have a fabulous winter vacation even if we ONLY participated in the non-skiing activities. Relax by the fire There is nothing as relaxing as snuggling up next to a roaring fire with a good book and a hot cup of coffee (or something stronger if you prefer). If you are extra lucky, said fireplace has a view of the ski slopes so you can also watch the excitement of the slopes while you are warm and cozy. If you love to read, you can easily spend a few lovely hours enjoying yourself while the rest of the group is out on the mountain. Explore the nearby towns We ski Boyne Mountain every year and the little towns surrounding it are wonderful places to spend a few hours poking around cute stores, enjoying a cup of local coffee and picking up some local treats for...
Tips for Traveling Internationally with Teens

Tips for Traveling Internationally with Teens

Although it’s in the plans, I haven’t traveled internationally yet with my teens – how is it possible that I have teens? As my daughter has been begging hinting to go to Italy, I guess I need to start thinking about it. My first choice for advice is my friend Tanya from Traveling Tanya. She recently returned from a trip overseas with her teen girls so I asked her to share her advice with me (and you!). Here are her best tips for traveling internationally with teens … The teenage years are the perfect time to travel abroad! My 13 and 15-year -old daughters are growing up right before my eyes, but I know I still have opportunities to make an impact on the young adults they will become. Traveling as a family during their teenage years gives us opportunities for both once-in-a-lifetime memories and critical life lessons. But everyone knows the teenage years are not always smooth sailing. And that is true for traveling with teens as well! Based on my own travel experiences, I want to share the upside and downside of traveling abroad with teens. I’ll also offer some tips to help you make the best of your family’s travel experiences. Do keep in mind that no two teens are alike. Girls’ travel habits will likely differ from boys. Even siblings who share the same DNA can act vastly different given the same set of circumstances. I’ve learned a lot after taking my teen daughters on several family vacations, including trips to Paris and Italy. But each parent knows their child best, so trust your instincts....
What to Bring to Disney World

What to Bring to Disney World

So what should you bring into Walt Disney World? Now that the kids are older and I don’t need to bring along all.the.stuff. I like to travel light when I visit. I can’t quite make it without carrying anything (I have a food allergy so have to have an EpiPen on hand), but I’ve pared it down to a small wristlet. So what should you pack to keep the weight down but still have everything you need? Since I just have a wristlet on my arm, both hands are free! The Basic Items to Bring to Disney World for the Day For me, these include the must-haves: My EpiPen and a few Benedryl tabs.AdvilMoney, ID, one credit card, annual passholder card, DVC card, AAA cardCell phoneSunglassesPhone chargerReading glasses (a sad new addition …) The Extra Items to Pack These are the nice to have items, but I usually squeeze them in: Hair tie or clipA bandaid (although you can get these at first aid in each park).Pen A few essential oils (typically DiGize for stomach aches and Deep Relief for muscle pain)Hand sanitizerChapstick And that’s it, although I might transfer the DiGize to a tiny bottle and throw in a sunscreen stick if it’s a hot day. I use my cell phone as a camera (and it’s usually in my hand or back pocket). I’ve found it’s so freeing to be able to bring so little into the park and yet still have everything I might need throughout the day! My favorite bag to use is a Vera Bradley Wristlet. They have a variety of patterns (someday I’m getting...
Batesville Indiana Fun!

Batesville Indiana Fun!

Back in January, we had stopped in Batesville, IN for breakfast on our way to a brewery tour trip in Cincinnati, OH. From our short drive into town, it appeared to be a town we needed to revisit when we had more time. With a sudden free afternoon, we decided to head out and add it to the Explore Indiana Counties project! So Ripley County became the next one on our list. First, A Delicious Lunch As soon as you enter downtown Batesville, it’s hard to miss The Sherman. The original Sherman House was built in 1852. Through the years, it has expanded and it even went through an extensive remodel in 2016. However, it still portrays a lot of historic charm along with some magnificent German food. It’s winter in Indiana which means it’s cold, so a warm and hearty meal sounded delightful. It was a bit after the normal lunch hour so the restaurant wasn’t busy and we were seated right away. With plenty of dark wood, gleaming surfaces, and rustic charm, the inside of The Sherman is absolutely beautiful. We were seated in a cozy alcove and our server recommended several restaurant specialties. The food was amazing! The restaurant at The Sherman considers itself an American Bistro with some great German specialties, so my son was able to order a filet (with a side of German potato salad) and we both thought it was better than the much higher priced filet he had recently enjoyed at Disney. We also tried the bratwurst on pretzel bread with horseradish mustard, potato cakes, Bavarian Onion Soup and Bratkartoffeln. If...
A Perfect Date Night

A Perfect Date Night

Date night doesn’t have to be your typical dinner & a movie (although you can make that special by visiting a unique theater!). Why not make this Valentine’s Day different by giving one of these three awesome date night ideas a try? Bonus if you schedule date nights for the next two weeks with the other two ideas! How about a Progressive Dinner? Idea #1: Create your own progressive dinner. We accidentally did this for our anniversary last year. Our first course was chips & guacamole and margarita’s during soccer practice and then we moved on to a much nicer restaurant for salads, wine, and dessert after we took our soccer player home. It was actually really fun and memorable so I decided to upgrade it this year for a unique night out. Start your evening with an appetizer or salad and a drink at one local restaurant, move on to another for entrees (or we did sushi since we aren’t big eaters) and finally end the night with coffee and dessert. If you have an area of town with several restaurants within walking distance of each other this can be a really fun experience! This works best with just two people because even if the restaurant is full you can often sit at the bar and be served pretty quickly at each stop. If you are on a tight budget this year, you could even do this with counter service restaurants – it’ll be a fun and inexpensive adventure. Get out and explore Idea #2: Skip the big night out and go exploring in a nearby town instead....
5 FREE Things to Do at Walt Disney World

5 FREE Things to Do at Walt Disney World

Free and Disney just don’t seem to go together, do they? Let’s face it, Disney can be a super expensive vacation. It’s pricey to stay onsite, park tickets are crazy expensive and the food costs more than other Orlando restaurants. One way to make your trip a little more affordable is to include some free things to do. Add these 5 FREE things to do at Walt Disney World on your next visit and have more fun for less money! Electrical water pageant. Every evening, you can visit the beach at the Polynesian resort and see a FREE water parade. Set to music, this 15-minute show is a fun way to cap off a wonderful day at Disney. Picking up a Dole Whip or cocktail at the resort to enjoy while you watch can be a low-cost treat too! The times vary for this (typically somewhere between 9:00 – 10:00) so check the website or ask at the hotel before you show up. It can also be viewed at other various spots around the lake, but we love the feel of the beach! Resort Activities. I talked a little bit about this on my post The perfect non-park day at Disney, but it also totally belongs on a post about FREE things to do at Disney. Most Disney resorts have a weekly activity schedule with things like bingo, pool parties, campfires, and free nightly movies. You can easily spend an entire day at the resort participating (which we have done many times) in all these fun things to do for no additional cost. Some of the deluxe resorts have...

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