The Beach vs. "The Beach"

Aug 29, 2013
Although the official last day of summer isn't until September 21, Labor Day marks the ceremonial end of summer. There is one thing that my new Michigander comrades and my tried and true Pennsylvanians have in common - their all headed to the beach!

The Beach vs. "The Beach"

Since my husband grew up in Michigan - The Great Lakes State - and I'm from far east Pennsylvania (almost in to NY and NJ) where the Atlantic Ocean can be found within a two our drive, we have very different ideas of what the beach is. So, in our household we have The Beach and "The Beach" - the latter always being spoken while using air quotes.

 I'm a beach baby through and through. I love the sand, the water, and the heat! Growing up my family vacationed at the beach almost every summer. Our go to vacation destinations were Ocean City, Maryland, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, or Florida. We'd gather our beach blanket, chairs, sand toys, books, card games, and sandwiches and spend the entire day at the beach and in and out of the water. My brother, sister, and I had so much fun jumping waves, making castles, and boogey boarding. I had a tan that lasted until Christmas! There is no more nostalgic feeling for me than being sticky from salt water and covered in sand. We'd walk the boardwalk in the evenings or eat out at a local seafood restaurant. Fresh salt water fish - YUM!

Me circa 1984 or 1985

For Nick, going to the beach was a whole different story. He went the "The Beach."  His family also packed up all their beach essentials except they usually stayed in state - traveling west or north to the shorelines of Michigan. The enjoyed the sand, sun, and the fresh water of Lake Michigan. His family enjoyed fresh water fish and their nights on docks and piers. I didn't even realize people swam in and vacationed at large lakes!

Two sandy shorelines... but which is the real beach? For me, Lake Michigan shorelines are an imitation beach. They are beautiful and work for me now as a resident of Michigan, but there's nothing like that salt water! You smell it when you drive into the beach town and get excited because you know you are getting close to the ocean. You don't get that same anticipation with "The Beach." "The Beach" is also missing salt water taffy, boardwalks and shops, and shells! I could lay on The Beach all day just soaking up the sun, reading, inhaling the salt air, and listening the crash of the waves.

 My Beach History in Pictures...

Me when I was 8 or 9 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

My sister, me, and my brother in Myrtle Beach with the seagulls. We would feed like mini Ritz crackers.

Stone Harbor, New Jersey 1998 – The Atlantic Ocean – taken from the back of a charter fishing boat

Tampa Bay, Florida 1999- The Gulf of Mexico
My sister and me chillin' poolside in Myrtle Beach
My college roommate (also named Ashley) and me enjoying Panama City Beach in 2005! We're about to head to a church service in the sand.
Panama City Beach, Florida (and The Gulf of Mexico) at sunset
My first taste of "The Beach." Holland, Michigan 2007
This is the weekend Nick proposed! 

Oceanside, California 2011
Dipping my toes in the Pacific!
La Jolla, California 2011 - The Pacific Ocean


Traverse City, Michigan 2012 - "The Beach"

Glen Haven, Michigan 2012 - Lake Michigan

Riley "Beach", Holland, Michigan 2013 
Enjoy your 3 day weekend!




Travel Tuesday!

Aug 27, 2013
I have been wanting to join this linkup for sometime now! If you've read the "About" section of this blog you will know I love to travel. I especially love traveling to Europe. I've visited Italy, France, and  England and just this past May I travel with my husband to the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, and Austria. I love to learn about other cultures and get out of the United States. I think learning about others' ways of life and their history is an important way to grow as a person. Today I'd like to share Budapest, Hungary with you. But first...

1. Share a post about travel! From road trips to trips abroad and from past travels to dream vacations. You can write about travel tips and tricks, favorite places to stay, or anything in between!
2. Grab the button above!
3. The linkup goes live every Tuesday at 8am GMT.
4. Hope around and meet new travel bloggers!
I wasn't really sure what to think about Hungary before I left for the vacation. My husband and I decided to do a tour of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany, and Austria to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. I was really excited to see Prague. My great grandparents where born in a town called Kutna Hora about 70 km east of Prague. I felt in a way I would be connecting with my ancestors, and I'd always dreamed visiting Germany and Austria. Hungary, for me, was just a country to see because it was part of the tour. I didn't have any expectations.
Budapest was an amazing city with tons of history and great architecture. It was beautiful!
This is the parliament building. I think it is the most beautiful and amazing piece of architecture I have ever seen.
This is the scoop with Budapest... There's a Pest side and a Buda side. The Buda side is more of a metropolis whereas Pest is a little calmer and where most choose to live. In the above picture I am on the Pest side and the Buda side is behind me. 
 A good view of some homes and businesses located on the Pest side.

Fisherman's Bastion

The Statue of Liberty
(I'm serious)
Hanging out on the bank of the Danube River. Isn't my sweetheart a cutie?!
 Enjoying our time together on the bank of the Danube. I heart this guy!
 This was an authentic  restaurant a few blocks down from our hotel. The entire menu was in Hungarian and no one spoke English. We ended up with an amazing pizza topped with onions, bacon, slice kielbosa, and more! The only problem was the waitress didn't quiet understand the question "Do you take credit?" Luckily the manager was nice enough to take Euros since we didn't have any Forints!

 The Chain Bridge. The Chain Bridge was the first bridge to connect Buda and Pest.
 We walked across the Chain Bridge from the Buda side to the Pest side. Here we are looking at the bridge from the Pest side and enjoying some quiet time!
Nick and me enjoying a river cruise on the Danube one evening. This was one of the coolest thing we did the entire trip!

The Statue of Liberty at night.

The Elizabeth Bridge and The Statue of Liberty.

I never really understood when people would describe something as breath taking. The Parliament at night really was breath taking. It made me think about how blessed my life  was that I was able to be on this trip! There are so many people who will never even travel out of their home state. How great is God and the way he has blessed me in my life!

Nick and me enjoying a chilly Hungarian night on the boat!
I hope you have enjoyed my Travel Tuesday (almost Wednesday) post. I would love to hear about your travels! Stop over to A Cute Angle's Facebook or Twitter page.

Homemade Peanut Butter Protein Bars

Aug 26, 2013
Happy Monday! I totally disconnected from my technology over the weekend and it was amazing. I watched three movies with the hubby (see Side Effects!), went to "the beach" (post coming soon), and knitted some drink koozies for my sister (and a possible giveaway... stay tuned).
How are you feeling after your weekend? This morning I went into work at 9a (I usually don't start until 12:30p)  so I definitely needed a boost! I was in great shape after eating a PB Protein Bar.

These homemade bars have only five ingredients and require no baking. Store bought proteins bars often have a laundry list of ingredients. How do you know what you are actually ingesting?  The bars are sweet and packed with a great peanut butter taste and lots of protein. I found the original recipe here, whipped up a batch, and haven't looked back!

Homemade Peanut Butter Protein Bars


  • 1 cup reduced fat peanut butter or allergy-friendly substitute
  • 1/2 cup protein powder (your choice of flavor)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup zero calorie sugar substitute or brown sugar or 1/4 cup brown sugar blend (your choice)
  • 4 Tbsp no sugar added applesauce
  1. If your peanut butter is in the fridge, remove it. Let it warm at room temperature until it is a stirable consistency.
  2. In a bowl, mix the peanut butter and applesauce until they form a smooth paste.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  4. Pour dry ingredients over peanut butter mixture a little at a time. Mix well until all ingredients are blended.
  5. Section mixture into the number of protein bars you want.
  6. Shape sectioned mixture into bar shapes with your hands.
  7. Place bars into individual Ziplock bags and place in freezer.
  8. Enjoy as a snack or meal replacement!

Five on Friday LinkUp - Home Edition

Aug 23, 2013
I had so much fun participating in this linkup last Friday that I've decided to do it again! Have a great weekend everyone!


~1~ Blog about five things - things you're loving, things that are on your mind, etc. Really, any five things!

~2~ Grab the "Five on Friday" button/logo above.

~3~ Join the link up by clicking on the "Five on Friday" button above so you're part of the blog hop and others can stop by and say hello.

Naked Walls  
I have bare walls everywhere in my house. I am pretty picky about what goes up and I haven't found any great art or anything else to put on the walls. Any suggestions for a master bedroom, living room, and stairway?

The Deck

I love having a deck. It's very convenient. However, our deck is on it's last leg. The wood is splitting and it shakes all over the place when I use the stairs. It's scary!This is on my wish list to have torn down and redone.

 Kitchen Cosmetics

The kitchen hardware is not my style at all. It's all in good shape and its not SUPER hideous so I haven't changed it yet. I'd love to go more modern with silver or stainless steel-ish colored hardware. I've wanted one of those Delta hands free faucets before I even bought a house. The drawer pulls in the after photo will tie in well with the hardware on my entertainment center in the living room and give the main level some cohesion.


Dining Room Carpet
Really? There's really carpet in the dining area? Not really a design choice I would have made. Plus, the owners before us had kids and the carpet was already stained when we moved in. I'd love to rip it out and replace it with wood that matches what's in the kitchen and main level hallways. For now - I'm looking for a reasonably priced carpet cleaning service. 

We've needed to add color to our main level since we moved in last year. We started by painting a light mocha colored accent wall in the living room - but that's still a neutral. I picked out a color called Empire Fleet Blue for the kitchen and dining area. I feel like blue is a good color for a kitchen. After I painted a swatch on the wall my husband decided to inform me that "we aren't painting this year." Ok, sure. Maybe he's not painted this year, but I sure am. In fact, I'd like to get it done over Labor Day weekend. I continued to tape off the baseboards...

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