Working Mom to Homemaker

Embracing The Change

Harpole’s Heartland Lodge

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Ok, this post is more of a review. I just feel the need to “harp” on this wonderful place. Haha, ok, that was REALLY BAD and NOT FUNNY. Anyway, the hubs and I were looking for a casual, low-key, weekend getaway to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. I did a lot of Google searches for places within a few hours of where we lived, and I stumbled over this one.

I went to their website and glanced around. Cost should have been my number one concern, but that was actually my second. I was more concerned about what the rooms looked like. We had been kind of spoiled with the last couple of trips we have taken, in that we got hotel rooms with Jacuzzi tubs in them. Naturally, for a romantic getaway, I wanted to be spoiled with a Jacuzzi tub. Once I saw pictures of the lodge rooms on the Heartland Lodge’s website, I was sold. As I glanced through all the different suite options and other pictures of the lodge, I avoided the price page for fear that it would cost way too much to ever consider in our lifetime.

I looked over the lodge’s on site activities and realized that hunting was their biggest specialty. This is in the Midwest after all.  But 4-wheeling was a close second and horseback riding was among a few other activities. We love 4-wheeling, but the hubs doesn’t have a 4-wheeler of his own….yet, and mine needs some work. Plus, we don’t have a trailer to haul them on. None the less, I was still getting excited at the mere option.

By this point, I still couldn’t brace myself to check the prices, until I noticed they had meal deals. That’s right, you could pay for a stay and breakfast, dinner and unlimited snacks and drinks would be included for the entirety of your stay. Ok, now I had to see the prices. If we didn’t have to pay for food for a whole weekend, then maybe this could work out. So I checked them out. Yes, the suites were a little up there, BUT if you booked 2 nights in a row, you got $20.00 off your stay and you didn’t have to pay for eating out at restaurants during your stay, which can get pricey in itself. To get specific prices, you will just have to visit their site, but I’ll tell you that we stayed Friday night and left after breakfast Sunday. Our bill was just under $550.00 This included 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners, several cans of pop between the two of us, s’mores, popcorn and iced tea. We also got a complimentary hay-rack ride and bonfire. If it wasn’t raining one of the nights we were there, we would have gotten 2 hayrides and 2 bonfires during our stay. No additional charge.  To me, that seems pretty reasonable for something we don’t do all the time.

Getting to the Lodge is half the fun. Coming from the land of flat, traveling to the town the Lodge is in, was actually quite pretty. We went the beginning of August, but I’d imagine the heart of the fall when the leaves are all changing would look the best. The lodge is nestled deep in the middle of nowhere and it truly does feel like a getaway. Despite the occasional 4-wheelers revving in the distance to go ride on the trails, it really is peaceful there. I found the 4-wheeling sounds quite comforting because I miss riding so much, but really the noise wasn’t that frequent or disruptive at all. The grounds are very well kept and it just looks very pristine.

This lodge does run on the bed and breakfast style system. There are 2 lodges, and breakfast and dinner are served in the main lodge, which is where we stayed. There is one chef that makes all the meals, and let me tell you, there are just not enough words to describe how delicious the food is! All the reviews say it’s like “Grandma’s Cooking.” And it is! The best part is waking up in the morning and smelling it being cooked and prepared. It’s making my stomach growl just thinking about it. Besides the wonderful food, the rooms are like little sanctuaries. You really do feel like your somewhere else. They have different themes for each suite, which really makes it unique. Each room also has their own deck/patio area equipped with wooden lounge chairs and tables. I took advantage of those a few times.

We ended up splurging our budget a little to take an hour long horseback ride one of the mornings we were there. It was great! The horses were wonderful and the trails were peaceful and relaxing. All the staff at the lodge were amazing as well. VERY friendly and personable. They made you feel right at home. We even met a few other couples and one even happened to live about a half hour from us. The whole time we were at the lodge, it was a down home family feeling. Even though we didn’t know anyone or had just met people, it felt like we were all a little family unit for the weekend. It just made the weekend and experience that more enjoyable.

I can’t wait until our kids are older so we can bring them along. (I think really little kids would get too bored) But I want to make this place a tradition for our family. To me, it’s very hard to find places to visit that emphasize good quality family time, or quality couples time, for a reasonable cost, and Heartland Lodge has just that.

I’m not writing this review for any benefit on my end. I doubt enough people will even see this for that to happen, and I’m not tech savvy enough to make that happen either. I just kept getting the feeling the whole weekend we were there, that I wished we had more money to give more gratuity tips. Their genuine hospitality made me want to thank them in more ways than I could for making our 5 year anniversary getaway weekend so great. So here it is, my review to brag about this hidden gem and hopefully allow more people to find out about this place. 🙂

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August 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Personalized Family Stories

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I got this random idea when my son was about a year old. I thought it would be cool and something special for him to have growing up and then he could keep it as a keepsake when he was older. It’s sort of like a scrapbook but it tells a story. We have used it as a bedtime story at times as well. He really liked it. Then when we had our daughter, I couldn’t leave her out to dry, so I made one for her as well.

I used Shutterfly, to make these and they do get pricey the more pages you have. I was lucky enough to find online coupon codes and take advantage of some of their promotions. The books I chose are the 12×12 hardcover photo books. All of my left hand pages are the words and the right hand pages are the pictures.

 

Sample of Jared’s Book:

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Sample of Alexis’ Book:

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August 8, 2013 Posted by | ALL THINGS KIDS | 1 Comment

Dirt Box

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My son LOVES dirt! As I’m sure tons of other boys do also. We had built one of those wooden swing sets a couple years ago, and weighed the idea of purchasing a sandbox to put in the empty spot under the “fort” section. The longer I thought about this, and the more research I did, I realized, sandboxes are expensive and there aren’t many size options to choose from either. Not to mention our little section under the “fort” is not really big and not perfectly square either.

So, I thought about it and came up with this VERY SIMPLE and really INEXPENSIVE idea. It’s a hit with my son and low maintenance. That’s all I need to call it a success! We basically used the whole underside of the “fort” area as his dirt box. We used screening to enclose it and keep the animals out at night. 2 of the sides roll up for easy play! Fill it with dirt and it’s good to go!

MATERIALS:

1. Landscaping tarp or underlay. (Enough to lay over the space you are filling with dirt.)

2. Fiberclass screening. (We bought 4 rolls at Menards for about $3.00 a piece)

3. A box of Nails. (Get any kind that have larger heads and are a shorter length)

4. Grommet Kit (These are sold at Menards for around $5.00) we bought the 1/2″ kit

5. 4 12″ bungee cords or however many you think you’ll need

6. 6 1-1/4″ brass mug hooks or however many you think you’ll need

7. Tarp Tape

DIRECTIONS: 

1. Lay out the landscaping tarp or underlay inside the area you’re using and secure it with the push pins it came with.

2. Choose which sides you want to remain permanently covered with the screen and measure and cut the screening to fit.

3. Nail in all sides of the screen with as many nails as  you need. Keep the screen tight.

4. Choose which sides you want to use as the retractable sides

5. Measure and cut the screening for the retractable sides, but only nail in the top half of the screen. Leave enough length at the bottom to fold up the bottom of the screen a couple inches. Use the tarp tape to secure the folded section of the screen to make using the grommet tool easier. (The tarp tape eventually comes undone, but the rings from the grommet tool hold the fold together. For this reason, you can choose the add more rings or if you know of a better tape to use, feel free.

6. Use the grommet tool to put how ever many rings you would like into the bottom folded over part of the screening.

7. Line up the mug hooks to match the rings from the grommet tool and place those on the bottom boards

8. Repeat steps 4-6 for all sides that you make retractable

9. The bungee cords fit into little parts of the swing set to hold up the rolled screen, but if you would rather use more mug hooks for that purpose, feel free.

Below are some close up pictures to help understand my instructions a little better.

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August 8, 2013 Posted by | ALL THINGS KIDS | Leave a comment

Instructions Bin

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I know this is nothing spectacular, but I thought I would post it anyways. I re-organized our family Instructions Bin because it was getting out of control. Since I’ve done this, it’s much easier to find exactly what I need instructions for and if we ever sell our home, we know which ones to leave for the next homeowners.

All I did was use the large size of mailing envelopes that have the little clasp in the back. I separated all our instructions into categories that worked for us. Each envelope is for a category.

Examples: 

Household Appliances (ones we bought)

Household Appliances (ones from previous owners)

Electronics

Kid’s Things

Outdoor Items

 

There are also zip-lock bags that are labeled and holding the spare pieces to whatever item they belong to.  For example, we have spare crib parts, spare front and back door hardware and spare tools and pieces to kids toys, games or furniture.

 

One other thing I did was reserve an envelope for each of our TV’s. Each envelope is labeled as either “Living room TV” , “Bedroom TV” etc… This way if we ever need anything for that specific TV, it’s easier to find.

 

All of ours fit nicely in a medium-sized blue Rubbermaid container.

 

August 8, 2013 Posted by | ORGANIZING | Leave a comment

Carpet Cleaner

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We have 3 dogs. So far, this is the best thing I have found besides spending big bucks on the store-bought stuff, that makes our carpets smell good and drowns out the smell of the vinegar when I soak the spots where they have accidents. It’s also nice, because you can choose your favorite Febreeze smell, which makes this little gem more customize-able than store-bought cleaners.

 

Actual Pinterest Link

 

INGREDIENTS: 

1 cup oxiclean (The liquid kind)

1 cup febreeze

1 cup distilled white vinegar

 

DIRECTIONS: 

Pour contents into shampooer tub and mix with hot water to fill tub completely. This will not only clean your carpets it will also deodorize. It will smell slightly of vinegar until the carpet is dry. Be sure to test spot with the solution just to be safe, however this should be safe for ALL carpets.

 

 

 

August 8, 2013 Posted by | CLEANING | Leave a comment

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