The Coolest Public Restrooms

When we were in Saugatuck, Michigan, Hubby had the brilliant idea that we should do a sunset cruise that evening. So, we drove to a local business to see if they had any cruises that evening and if there were any openings. That idea was a no go but as we were driving up to the business, I noticed a mural on a building.

You see I am a sucker for photographing murals. I love the artistic ability of people. When I’m drawing/ painting/ anything artistic, I get upset when my art is not perfect.

When he stopped, we were about a block or so from the mural so I hoofed it over to the mural. It ended up being on the wall of the public bathroom in a park.

I hope you see why I liked this mural.

Then it was time to take some selfies.

Here are some photos of the park and surrounding area.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Our weekend to Holland, Michigan

I seriously need to get back to blogging about our Columbus trip last August. However, I think I need to share photos from our trip this weekend.

In 2016, we traveled to Holland, Michigan after we dropped my son off at camp. Even though I was there for less than 24 hours, I fell in love with the area. The downtown area is 1/3 parking, 1/3 green space, & 1/3 buildings. Every May, they have Tulip Time during the second week. Lots of people flock to the area to see the tulips blooming.

I made the decision we were going back when my birthday and Mother’s Day collided for Tulip Time. This year was our chance. Even though I’m exhausted, it was so worth it.

We drove up Friday night through the rain and then a beautiful sunset.

On Saturday, we visited Saugatuck Dune State Park which reminded me of the movie ET at points. I felt as though Elliot was going to zoom past me on his bike. Then the forest opens up to the beach and Lake Michigan. I wish we spent more than an hour there but we had things to do. Then it was time to go visit downtown Saugatuck, a charming town with artisan shops and fisherman delights. Then it was onto Holland to see the tulips. We lucked out with our parking, so we hoofed it throughout the town.

While we were in Holland, we visited the library, walked down the Yellow Brick Road, saw many tulips, went back in time to 1812, visited the first mayor’s house and a house that survived the 1871 fire, and drank some lemonade from a girl who was selling lemonade outside her house.

Then we went back to Saugatuck for dinner and to find a perfect beach for sunset. On our way back to the Air BnB, we found a restaurant that served food from a huge root beer barrel. I needed to get the souvenir mug with a root beer float from that restaurant.

We had some downtime at the Air Bnb because it was not time for the sunset just yet. Closer to the sunset, we drove back to the beach in order for me to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. So magical.

Sunday was my birthday. I started the day with a relaxing bubble bath. Then it was time to start the day. The first stop of the day was the tulip immersion garden. Imagine 50,000 tulips right where you can easily get photos. You also learned about the history of the tulip in this garden.

Then we tried to find parking. There was traffic everywhere because of Tulip Time, Mother’s Day, AND Hope College’s graduation. We lucked out because we found the last parking spot in the parking lot. They closed the lot after we drove up the ramp.

We took a walking tour around the city to learn about its history. Our tour guide even wore a traditional Dutch outfit along with wooden shoes.

Finally, it was time to meet up with a high school classmate: 200 plus miles from where we graduated from school 29 years ago. Can it be that long ago?

We ate pickle pizza and just talked for over an hour. Realizing the time, we walked them back to the car before going to get our last drink from a local coffee shop. I needed to go to the restroom, ok.

Next, we started the drive home. Stopping at rest stops along the way. We discovered a cool rest stop with a little museum just outside of Angola, Indiana. Finally, at 9:57 pm on a school night, we pulled into our driveway. All we could do was get ready for bed and crash because work beckoned us.

Stay tuned for photos from our trip.

Have a blessed day,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? Week of May 8, 2022

My menu this week contains food I already have in the house. I don’t want to have to go shopping after my weekend away. A big grocery shopping trip was done last week. I may have to get some produce and/or bread/ milk. Other than that, we’ll be good to go.

I have not included any lunches in my menu. I don’t know what I’m going to eat just yet.

Sunday – My birthday! Whoop, whoop!

  • Breakfast – Granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch – Out to eat
  • Dinner – On the road

Monday

  • Breakfast – Cottage cheese with jam
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – Steak, rice, and roasted veggies (I got a bag of frozen roasted veggies during my grocery shopping.)

Tuesday

  • Breakfast – Cottage cheese with jam
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – Bacon and cheddar hamburger patties (freezer), Garlic Parmesan fries, and mixed veggies

Wednesday

  • Breakfast – Cottage cheese with jam
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – Out to eat – It’s both food truck and farmer’s market Wednesday in my town.

Thursday

  • Breakfast – cottage cheese with jam
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – Hot dogs, chips, and raw veggies

Friday

  • Breakfast – either cottage cheese with jam OR granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – either of the frozen gluten-free pasta kits or out to eat – My town is doing a Friday the 13th party.

Saturday

  • Breakfast – granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch –
  • Dinner – chili or the gluten-free pasta kit

Have a wonderful week,
Traci

Mom, What’s For Dinner? Week of May 1, 2022

Sunday

  • Breakfast – Ham and cheese roll from the local gluten-free bakery
  • Lunch – Chicken and corn chowder (left-over from last night)
  • Dinner – Meatloaf with twice baked potatoes from Sam’s Club, corn

Monday

Tuesday

  • Breakfast – Yogurt parfait
  • Lunch – Hummus plate – I have honey cheddar cheese, gluten-free crackers or pretzels, Kalamata olives, and cucumbers to go with the hummus
  • Dinner – Tacos, chips, and queso

Wednesday

  • Breakfast – Yogurt parfait
  • Lunch – Hummus plate
  • Dinner – Spaghetti with sausage, roasted broccoli (Ronzoni is the best gluten-free spaghetti in my opinion. I can get my gluten-eating family to eat it.)

Thursday

  • Breakfast – either cottage cheese with jam OR granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch – Left-overs
  • Dinner – Soy sauce pork chops, smashed potatoes, mixed veggies (The soy sauce is gluten-free.)

Friday

  • Breakfast – either cottage cheese with jam OR granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch – Left-overs or a salami and cheese wrap
  • Dinner – Dinner on the road – I have a black bean salad, peanut butter plate, and other snacky foods. It’s hard not knowing what options will be available to me when I travel. I am gluten-free, so I have to pack food with me.

Saturday

  • Breakfast – granola bar with cheese
  • Lunch – Out to eat with a high school classmate
  • Dinner – Out to eat – I will be packing my pho as a backup meal. I also have meat sticks already in my bag to eat if I also need something else.

Have a wonderful week,
Traci

Columbus trip | August 2021 | Saturday morning walk

Join me on a walk around the Historic Italian Village.

Hubby decided to sleep in on Saturday. I was anxious to do some exploring, so I left the Air BnB and walked to get breakfast.

The first group of photos is where our Air BnB is located and the murals across the street.

Some of the flowers and the chicken on the building. It was a deli or a small convenience store if I am remembering correctly.

The reason I went for the walk was to go to this coffee shop called Fox in the Snow. Boy, it did not disappoint. When I got there, there were a lot of people waiting for it to open. It is a popular place and for a good reason.

Check out the pastries. People were lining up to not only get coffee but also get the pastries.

The coffee I got is the New Orleans coffee. It’s made with chicory instead of coffee. So good.

Some photos of my walk back to the Air BNB.

Here is my gluten-free breakfast sandwich from the Fox in the Snow:

So delicious!

Join me next time for our visit to the North Market.

Have a magical day,
Traci

March 12, 2020

2 years ago, it was a typical Thursday. It was the last day of the quarter. The next day was supposed to be a teacher’s workday. Spring break was in 2 weeks.

Right before car rider duty, I get word that schools were going to be closed to flatten the curve. I can remember it was a beautiful day outside.

The next day, we came in for the teacher’s workday. Meetings were scheduled to address how we were going to teach the students while they were at home. Some parents opted to do it on the computer while others opted to do it on paper and pencil. Packets were made. I can even remember which drawer I placed them in so I could help give them to the students I serviced.

Monday was a day I will never forget. A few students came in for their last day. For some, it would be 7 or 11 months until they entered a school building for others it was going to be almost a year and a half.

Parents were coming in to get supplies or the paper packets. No one knew what was going to happen next.

The school district I teach in had already had its world turned upside down when the tornado ripped through that previous May. In less than a year, more trauma was created in those young lives.

I was dealing with my own trauma at the same time. I had just lost my mom 5 months prior. As I was beginning to feel some sort of healing, my life was flipped upside down.

So when you say it’s been 2 years, for me it’s been much longer since my life was “normal.”

Oh, and I may have had Covid that February before the shutdown. I remember being gone for over a week and when I came back one of my students said to me, “Did you have the coronavirus?”

My reply was “no,” as I continued to have coughing attacks until the shutdown.

Mom, What’s For Dinner? Week of February 27, 2022

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a meal plan. My children will still ask me what’s for dinner. However now they are teenagers, they have started to cook for themselves. I just provide the ingredients for them. They’ll also eat what I’ve cooked.

Oldest has decided he wants to learn to cook before college which is soon. Mind you his first two years will be done at a local college, so he’ll be still at home. He wants to make sure he knows how to make basic recipes.

Breakfast:

I have a running list of favorite breakfasts.

Lunch:

  • Salsa chicken – In the freezer – Taco (?!?)
  • Steak bites with sauteed peppers, onions, and mushrooms over rice
  • Side salad for both

Dinner:

Sunday Dinner:

  • Roast, roasted potatoes and carrots, mashed potatoes OR
  • Whole chicken, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Jigsaw Pieces

“So many things are possible, just as long as you don’t know Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,hey are impossible.”

–Philippians 3:13

Paul gives the directive to forget the past. We need to look forward to the future. Which is true.

Sometimes our past is the key to our future. We need to look back for one reason. I’ll explain the reason later in this post.

On July 14, 1985, I left behind my past. A difficult past. My future was bright. After I got off of the bus in Ohio, it was as though a large black-out curtain had been drawn across my childhood. A few bad memories have escaped. For the past 37 years, I have wondered what my life was before we left.

My mom NEVER talked about my childhood with me. I didn’t know how to approach her with my inquiries. Photos of that were time were few and far between. They were hidden in plain sight but never looked at. Fearful that she would say no, I snuck looking at the photos. I wanted to know who I was before moving to Ohio.

There are lessons to learn from your past. Even if it was traumatic, you can still use those lessons of perseverance. Maybe they won’t only help you but they will help other people. It’s a reminder that nothing lasts forever and that you’ve grown stronger as a person.

Not having those memories makes it hard to learn from your past. The memories I was left with are of my father hiring me and a few scattered puzzle piece memories. Imagine a jigsaw puzzle with pieces that have been easily lost. That’s what happened to my memories.

A spooky door, a hill to climb, and a penny store are a few of those pieces. Light switches on the outside, cigarettes, and screaming are the ones I wish I could scatter.

On October 12, 2019, my life changed once again. I was left orphaned as an adult. Father died in 1996 even though we had left him in 1985. My sister died in 2016. Now my mom was gone.

It was at that moment, I needed to pick up the jigsaw memories and continue with my life. Two weeks before she died, God spoke to me and said, “It’s time to tell your story.” I balked at him. Then I wrote my unpublished book but still kept it quiet. “No one needs to hear my story,” I kept saying to myself. Last week, I made little videos telling my story. God smiled at me because I listened to him. It’s up to me to decide what to do with those videos.

Then 2 days later, a classmate of mine from the school I attended right before we moved contacted me. I couldn’t believe the fact that she remembered me from 37 years ago.

A few questions of mine were answered. Then she gave me the biggest gift, I was told I have the same warm smile and how I tutored her. You see I was destined to be a teacher even back then. I was NOT forgotten when we up and left that den of despair. The pieces are falling back into place. My shoulders don’t feel so heavy.

I’m not wanting to live in the past. I’m desiring the lessons my past can teach me as I continue to discover God’s purpose for my life.

Stay kind!

Have a magical day,
Traci

Instant Pot Tacos

Jump to the recipe

You may noticed I’ve been on a taco kick lately. Youngest and I enjoy our tacos. Now that I’ve figured out the yummiest taco meat, I make it at least once a week.

During my weekly meal prep, I made extra of the taco meat and froze it in my Souper cubes. Yes, I got some of them and absolutely love them. This way the taco meat is ready to go if I want to eat nachos or just don’t feel like cooking.

What do I need for the recipe?

  • ground beef – I know ground beef prices are expensive. Sometimes the family packs are cheaper. Get one of those, double or triple the recipe, and then freeze for later.
  • taco seasoning – Homemade or store bought – My favorite is from a local place.
  • onion, optional – You could also add some diced up bell peppers in the taco meat.
  • salsa or fire roasted salsa style tomatoes – I found fire roasted salsa style tomatoes at my local grocery store. They add a certain flavor to the taco meat. If your store doesn’t have that type of tomatoes substitute salsa.
  • Tortillas – Flour, corn, or hard taco shells – It doesn’t matter.
  • Your favorite toppings: Cilantro, sour cream, lettuce, shredded cabbage, black beans or re-fried beans, jalapenos, tomato, cheese

Other uses for the taco meat

  • Nachos – The meat would be delicious on nachos. Yum!
  • Taco salad – Add some French, Catalina, or ranch dressing on top. Or you could skip the dressing and use salsa instead.
  • Taco fries – Doesn’t that sound delicious? Or is it just me?
  • Walking tacos – Fritos, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The Recipe

As always, click on the image for a printable version of the recipe.
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