Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fishing Fun & More at Shakamak State Park!

             Hey folks! Before I jump in to today's post, you may have noticed I decided to just start a series of sorts with all of my state park visit posts. I can't promise I'll have a “Travelin' Tuesdays” post every week, but from here on out whenever I have a state park, camping, road trip post, etc., that's when you can expect them!
             I'm really excited about today's post. Not that I haven't enjoyed all of the other state parks we've visited so far, but, in a nutshell, I have nothing but good things to say about Shakamak State Park! The funny thing is, I had never even heard of it until I was looking up a list of all the state parks in Indiana. Why is that funny? Because, other than McCormick's Creek, which is only about 15 minutes away, it is the closest to us at 38 minutes! Given, we've only lived down here not quite 2 years, but still. You would think we would know about another park that close!
             I read online that Shakamak is known for its fishing with THREE man-made lakes. So, I've been putting off going there for a month or two because I wasn't sure they would have much else to keep us entertained and, if I remember right, the nature center is open seasonally, so figured it probably wasn't open yet. As it turned out, the nature center WASN'T open, but...They were replacing the roof. So who knows whether that was the only reason.
             As for the fishing, well, let's just say we were having such good luck the first evening that we decided to go back again the next day! But, before I start getting into too much detail about our excursions, let's let the pictures do some of the talking. ;)

             Since the nature center was closed, we started off by checking this nice fishing pier out. We didn't actually end up fishing from it since it had no shade at all...And the guys we talked to out there said they hadn't had much luck.

             After that we drove to a picnic area/shelter on the next lake (Lenape) and ate lunch, then went for a walk down part of trail 3. There were lots of bridges and a fair amount of stairs!
             When we got back from our walk, we tried some fishing at the dock there without much luck. We drove to the campground after that and tried the dock out there with no luck either. (Unless you count snake sighting. Blegh!) BUT, it was mid-afternoon, to be fair.

             We then took the long way around the big Kickapoo lake. I wish I had gotten it on video. It was a pretty drive with the way the trees were hanging over the road. We didn't do any fishing on that lake, but ended up back on Lake Shakamak on the boat rental dock and that's where the real magic happened. ;)

             We ended up catching a lot of crappie. (I actually caught the most the second day!) John somehow managed to catch a single bass. No one else caught any, which I thought was kind of strange. But, even Myka caught a fish! We ended up staying way later than we probably should have, but it was well worth it.

             Mini monster doesn't look very amused here, but she actually did really well! Surprisingly well! I still need to remember to bring more toys next time.

             The next day started off with some time at the playground for the kiddies. Then we went for a short stroll down parts of paths 1 and 2. It was time for lunch after that at a different shelter than the day before because why not? Plus, it was close to a restroom. Their actual restrooms (not those silly outhouse things) were very clean! I was impressed. I love me a good, clean restroom that has actual toilets and not holes in the ground!
             Since we had such good luck the day before, we decided to go back to the same dock on Lake Shakamak with the boat rentals. We didn't catch nearly as many, but altogether we had a good amount for a nice fish fry. :) Oh. And I don't really have any experience with fish cleaning stations, but the ones at Shakamak seemed nice. There were kind of like a little cabin with screen windows, cutting board surfaces, garbage disposal, one of those big sprayers like you find in kitchens at restaurants, big drainage trench, etc. I guess I should have gotten some pictures, huh?

             We will definitely be going back. There is plenty to do and keep everyone busy and all of the facilities seemed well-kept. We're probably going to have to rent one of those paddle boats next time because Myka was obsessed with them. (I used to be too as a kid. It's about the only kind of boat I like.) Unfortunately, a storm was rolling in the second day, so I didn't want to chance it!

             Sorry for the lengthy post! Join me again next week for our adventure to Clifty Falls State Park!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Add "The Fifteenth of June" to Your Summer Reading List! (Review)

            Hey folks! With relaxing pool or beach side season upon us, it's time to be adding some books to your summer reading list! This debut novel from author Brent Jones is the perfect title to add to it. Here is The Fifteenth of June in a nutshell:

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Thomson is haunted by a troubled past. After struggling for years with alcoholism and antisocial behavior, he ends a stable relationship with his girlfriend and finds himself without a home, job, or purpose.

Just as he learns that his father is terminally ill, he meets a stranger who offers him a flicker of hope for a better future. But is he ready to bury the past?

Rich with dark humor and a keen insight into the human condition, this debut fictional release from author Brent Jones delves into life’s most pressing trials—destructive relationships, love, loss, and pursuing happiness.
             I tend to stick to the same genres when it comes to reading for pleasure and this story does not fit any of them so, admittedly, I wasn't sure whether I would like this book or not. I quickly found the story and main character sucking me in, though. I actually had a hard time “putting it down” and was disappointed and irritated the days I just didn't have the time or energy to read any at the end of the day.
             I feel like I have a pretty twisted and dark sense of humor myself, so The Fifteenth of June was right up my alley. Who doesn't love a good story that can make you laugh out loud at parts, right? Being a “family-friendly” blog, I feel like I should mention that there is crude and foul language in this book as well as drug and alcohol references. The latter two actually end up being an integral part of the story, but I felt I should warn those of you who do not like reading about such things.
             While not an alcoholic and definitely not a drug addict, I felt like I could really relate to the main character, Drew. We're roughly the same age and I'll admit I've been known to drink too much back in the day. Being an introvert, I definitely have some anti-social tendencies, so that aspect of his character was relatable to me in a big way as well. You can see why it was easy for me to get attached to this story right away!
             Even if you might not personally identify much with Drew's characteristics, I'm sure we've all experienced his insights and outlooks on life at one point in our lives or another. Wanting to just be left alone, wanting to find happiness and be happy, and wanting to change your path in life for the better, but not really knowing where to begin are all major themes of this novel. 

             If you're looking for an easy, yet entertaining and introspective read, I highly recommend The Fifteenth of June. You can find it on Amazon or, if you're still not quite sure whether you would like it or not, you can get the first two chapters to sample for free on Brent's website. You can stay up-to-date with him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Afternoon Exploration at Lieber & Cataract Falls SRAs

             Hey folks! Have I mentioned my husband and in-laws love mushroom hunting? I'm guessing a lot of you might be too, so we all know this is the perfect time of year for finding morels. (So I've heard.) I could care less about mushrooms because I think they're disgusting, but I love any excuse to go walking in the woods! We recently went “mushrooming” at Lieber SRA and Cataract Falls SRA, so, even though they are not state parks, I thought I would share some pictures from them in this week's “travel post” anyways. They are definitely worth visiting as well!

             Communication is not exactly my husband and his family's strong point, so I will admit I was disappointed (read: pissed off) when, on the way, I found out we were going here instead of Cataract Falls like I thought. I didn't really have a good time when I went with them last year because I couldn't really fish with the kids being the age they were at the time, there were no trails where we went (that I know of, at the dam), and there were a ton of people over by the playground having a get-together or something. Anyways...
             We ended up going to the actual SRA this time and walked down an old access road. It was beautiful out that day, so I went a little overboard with pictures. It was a much more pleasant experience this time. The kids also got to play on a different playground for a little bit before we took a walk. Oh. And in case you're wondering, no, they didn't find any mushrooms.

             I love this place. Who doesn't love waterfalls, right? I'm not sure why we don't go more often. It's only about 20/25 minutes away. (Lieber/Cagles Mill Dam is only about 10/15 minutes from Cataract Falls, in case you're wondering. You can totally make both in a day!) I meant to go last fall and never got around to it, for some reason (Life, amiright?) because I'm sure it's extra awesome with all of the leaves changing colors!
             We did the “usuals” here: Checked out the upper falls, attempted to go on a trail we've never been on (We had to turn around. It was too steep and the kids were with us, of course!), walked over the covered bridge, checked out the lower falls, and walked the path between it and the picnic area.

             I didn't really include much about any amenities, so if you have any particular questions, you can either visit each place's website by clicking their names above or ask me in the comments below! What is your favorite lake or waterfall to visit?

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
Thinking Outside The Pot

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Protect Your Skin This Summer with Block Island Organics! (Review)

block island sunscreen

             Hey folks! Summer is just around the corner and that means one thing for those of us, like yours truly, who weren't blessed with naturally tanning skin, like my husband: Sunscreen! (It is wise for EVERYONE to still wear at least a little, even if you tan easily. You are still getting those UV rays!) Maybe we have more in common than you know and you have climbed out of your winter hidey hole already to work on the yard and other outdoor projects. If that's the case, there have already been some days that we have benefited from sunscreen!
             Now, before I jump into today's review, I want to share a little secret. Well, it's not really a secret, but I hate sunscreen. Like absolutely hate everything about it. I hate putting it on and taking even more time to get ready, I hate that it makes me feel like my skin can't breath and makes me feel even HOTTER, I hate all of the unpronounceable chemicals in it, and, most of all, I hate how greasy it is! I don't even like or use regular lotion unless absolutely necessary for the last reason. To me, sunscreen is a necessary evil. The moral of that story being that I am hard to please when it comes to sunscreen. So why did I decide to review the Block Island sunscreen?

sunscreen ingredients

             Believe it or not, I do research into products before accepting them for review. The Natural Mineral Sunscreen grabbed my attention right away because it has ingredients I recognize and can pronounce! Block Island is completely transparent when it comes to the ingredients in their products.
             I am a big fan of the Environmental Working Group's website. If you're not familiar with it, they have a database of all kinds of products and just how “natural” they are according to their ingredients list and each ones toxicity. It's pretty cool. Anyways, Block Island's Natural Mineral Sunscreen has been listed on EWG's Best Beach & Sport Sunscreen list for three years in a row! Here are some other things I liked about it or thought were worth mentioning:

sunscreen in hand

*NOT greasy!

*Actually smells good. Even my 4 year old said so.

*A little goes a long way! I will admit that when I first saw the bottle I was like, “Is this a joke? This is their full-sized bottle?! I'm going to use this up after, like, 3 or 4 uses!” It's a mere 3.4 fl. oz. It can fit in your purse. (And definitely your beach bag or backpack!) Honestly, though, it really does just take a little. I'm still so used to “regular sunscreen” that I regularly use more than I need to, but the kids and I have used it at least 3 or 4 times each and there is still PLENTY left!

*With having so much zinc oxide (22%, the active ingredient that does the actual sun blocking), it is sometimes hard to work in all the way...Then again, it may just be from me using too much! But I'm not a fan of looking like I have sunscreen on, so I thought it was worth mentioning.

*It seems like if I have a bunch on my hands already, but continue trying to work it in on the kids it starts “flaking” some. Again, it may be from using too much.

*Needs to be reapplied every 2 hours, which is more often than most sunscreens I've seen.

*I really like that my skin still feels like it's able to breath. Regular sunscreens make me feel like my skin is suffocating, for lack of a better way to put it, and it makes me feel even hotter, like my body heat/sweat can't escape properly. Which, in turn, makes me feel weird overall.

*We used this while fishing at the lake all day and I didn't reapply it as directed time-wise. (I know, I know.) My 4 year old's cheeks were a little pink at the end of the day and my face was a bit pink too, but we didn't get burnt to a crisp! I think that says something considering the light was reflecting off the water back onto us and all that. It was a very sunny day too!

*The one major wish I have for the Natural Mineral Sunscreen is that it were waterproof! Then it would be perfect. ;) I have found that it is great for working in the yard and fishing, though, so far!

             You can learn more about Block Island Organic's Natural Mineral Sunscreen and the rest of their skincare products on their website by clicking the link above. You can also stay up-to-date with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Plus, if you still need to stock up on sunscreen for the summer, be sure to use the discount code below on your order from Block Island!

 Use code alicia at checkout to receive 20% off on their site. Discount is good from 5/17/17-5/23/17. Please note that this code cannot be used in conjunction with other discounts.

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
Thinking Outside The Pot

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bust Boredom with ColorTime Crafts! (Review & Giveaway)

             Hey folks! I don't know about where you are, but Mother Nature seems to have gotten confused here in Indiana this year. Usually it's rainy and miserable for the majority of April. Well, it's been super nice...until the last week. Then we got crazy amounts of rain and there's more on the way this week! None of us do very well when cooped up indoors for too long. When Colortime Crafts and Markers offered to let us try one of their products out, I knew it would be the perfect rainy day craft!
             Colortime Crafts specializes in items, such as shirts, pillow cases, tote bags, etc., that you can color yourself! As you can probably guess from their name, they also offer a colorful array of special fabric markers used for coloring your items. Colortime Crafts has something for boys and girls alike and offers items perfect for scouts and summer camp. Regardless of whether kids are working on their own, wearable works of art with a group of friends or just chilling at home with family, it's a lot of fun designing and coloring something you will be able to use for years to come. And best of all? Everything is affordable!
            We recently had the opportunity to try out one of their shirts. The smallest size I saw available was a youth small, so I was afraid even that would be too large for my 4 year old (She's my oldest so I'm not really familiar with regular “kid sizes” yet. ha ha), but it fits perfectly for a comfy shirt!
We didn't get to choose what color markers we received to try out, but they couldn't have picked more perfect colors! These three seem to be her fave at the moment, so that was a pleasant surprise. :) (Don't worry. They have MANY more colors to choose from online!)

We completed about half of this on a crummy weather day while the little monster was sleeping. It was the perfect activity! Plus, I'm pretty sure it relaxed both of us. It seemed like it helped her calm down. ;)
Even with the large markers, she didn't seem to have any trouble with them. Also, side note, even though it is suggested to put something inside the shirt while coloring (we used a paper grocery bag), the “bleed through” was very minimal.

This is before and after washing, respectively. I don't think there's much of a difference, do you? The marker color is not supposed to fade or bleed at all after washing. Speaking of which, I like that there is no special prep for these items. The company actually recommends NOT washing it before coloring (which is great if you have impatient little ones like me!) and washing it like regular afterward. I am very much a fan of easy and not having to “baby” things!

The final product in action! ;)

             Colortime Crafts also offers wholesale orders, free coloring pages, and a birthday club! You can stay up-to-date with them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And, before you run off, be sure to enter the giveaway below for your choice of backpack and three fabric markers. Giveaway open to U.S. Only.
            And, if that's not enough, be sure to check out these specials and other giveaways below!

The coupon: 15% off online retail purchases.
Use coupon code 15for30C when you check out at colortime.com. Coupon must be entered at the time of purchase. Offer not valid on sale items and may not be combined with other offers or discounts.
Offer expires on July 18, 2017.

The Free Shipping:  Free ground shipping on orders over $60. In the continental US. Only for retail, web-based orders, placed on our website. Not to be combined with any other offers and discounts.
To get the free shipping, use code FRSHW.

The giveaway: Colortime is doing a giveaway via our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/colortimecrafts). It is a weekly fan giveaway. Here are the instructions:

Each week Colortime Crafts and Markers will randomly draw 1 lucky FAN who will receive a special craft package, which includes a Colortime print item of your choice and three special permanent Colortime FABRIC MARKERS. All you have to do to be eligible is to "like" and become a fan of Colortime Crafts and Markers on Facebook.

The winners' Facebook name will be posted each Monday on the Colortime Crafts and Markers Facebook page. We will send you a message on Facebook informing you that you won. Look for it, and if your name is a winner, you can also send us an email message to info@colortime.com with your full name and address and in either case we will ship your prize within 2 weeks.

1) You must be a fan of Colortime Crafts and Markers (www.facebook.com/colortimecrafts) Facebook page.
2) Once you win a prize, you are not eligible for additional prizes for this promotion for 12 months after the prize has been awarded.
3) Prizes not claimed within 2 weeks will be forfeited.

Also, we have FREE coloring pages available for download! Those can be found here: http://www.colortime.com/Free-Coloring-Pages-c64.html

Mixed Bag Mama did not receive monetary compensation for this post. Product was received in order to facilitate this review and my honest feedback. All opinions are my own. This giveaway is not endorsed or affiliated by any social media networks mentioned including, but not limited to, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube. Mixed Bag Mama and all participating bloggers are not responsible for prize shipment.
Thinking Outside The Pot
This Is How We Roll Thursday Party

Friday, May 12, 2017

Omaiki Lotus Reusable Pad Starter Set Giveaway

            Reusable menstrual pads from Omaïki's Lötus line are a great way to go green! They're trim, absorbent and made in Canada with Canadian materials. With a waterproof PUL backing, they keep your clothing dry and have wings to secure around underwear. Available in multiple sizes including thong-liners, they are a great way to keep toxins away from your most intimate areas. Read Mama Banana's Adventures Omaïki Lötus review for full details and enter to win a set below!

           Why cloth pads? Cloth pads are free from the toxins found in disposable menstrual products and many women report that they seriously reduce or stop menstrual cramps. In this fantastic starter set, you get 2 panty liners, 2 mini-maxi, 2 maxi and a matching wetbag! It's a great way to try out reusable pads, add to your collection or to give as a gift. The Omaiki Lotus starter set can be found on their website and at select retailers. Omaïki Lötus Features:
  • Made in Canada with Canadian fabrics
  • Organic cotton and bamboo
  • Washable
  • Thin but absorbent
  • Waterproof PUL backing
  • Nature-inspired prints
  • Serged edges for minimal panty lines
  • Available in 5 sizes for Menstrual Care
    • Panty liner 8.5"
    • Mini-Maxi 8.5"
    • Maxi Pads 11"
    • Maxi Plus 11"
    • Thong liner
  • Available in Incontinence
    • Light, Medium and Premium
  • Wings that snap around your underwear
  • Matching wet bags with zipper and pouch
Enter the giveaway below! $60 arv open to USA & Canada 18+, void where prohibited. Good luck!
Disclosure: This giveaway is in no way associated with, sponsored, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, Google, Pinterest or any other social media network. Event organized by Mama Banana’s Adventures. Open to legal residents 18+ of USA and Canada. Confirmed Winner will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner will be drawn. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. The disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Mama Banana's Adventures & participating bloggers are not responsible for lost or stolen prizes. For questions about this event contact MamaBananasAdventures@gmail.com

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Beautiful Views & Exploring at Shades State Park

             Hey folks! Myka recently stayed with my parents a few days around Easter. We always meet halfway for both of us in Crawfordsville to “exchange” her since we live so far away from one another. To get to the point, Shades State Park is only about 20/25 minutes from there, so I decided that would be our second stop on my quest to visit all of our state parks this year!

             We had been to Shades two years ago in the late winter when we were house hunting. It was super cold and dreary out and I’m pretty sure there was still snow on the ground. We just stopped briefly to check it out since we were in the area and  see if it would be worth visiting when it was warmer out. We weren't all that impressed. It didn't seem like there was much to do. And, to be honest, there really isn't, in a way, depending on what you enjoy doing at state parks. If staying at an inn with a restaurant, visiting the nature center, and going on short, easy hikes are your thing, Shades is probably not for you. If you're into moderate to rugged hiking, “roughing it” camping (non-electric campground), or just want to go there for a picnic or family get together, then you're in luck!
             I like hiking as much as the next person, but I'll be totally honest: I'm really out of shape...And I was alone with both of the kids, as I probably will be on most of these state park trips. Needless to say, we didn't get too adventurous. 

             I had intended on taking one of two short, easy trails, Trail 6, which is only .5 miles. The thing is, I'm really bad at reading maps. Like, I'm pretty sure I'll get us lost in the woods at some point this year on one of these journeys. Plus, there were some people with dogs that didn't exactly sound friendly, so I think I panicked a little and wanted to go the opposite way of them. Which landed us on part of trail 1...

             While only .75 miles in length, Trail 1 is listed as moderate/rugged and went down many, many steep stairs to the bottom of a ravine where you can walk through the creek bed and check out a small waterfall, evidently. Myka wanted to explore this, of course, but there was no way in hell I was going down there without extra adult supervision to help out. You know what they say: What goes down, must come back up! Lol

 The Devil's Punchbowl/Creek Bed

             However, going on the wrong trail had worked out because we did get to see some beautiful sights. We got a gander of the gorge where the creek bed mentioned above was. There were also two lookout points: Inspiration and Prospect Point. I really shouldn't complain because it was a great view of Sugar Creek from both spots, but I was disappointed there were so many bees at Prospect Point as the view was admittedly better there. (Btw, what is UP with the BEES this spring?! I'm not talking about the good, honeybees either!) I just kind of reached, clicked, and hoped for the best as far as pictures went there. :D 

 From Prospect Point
From Inspiration Point
             Myka was getting kind of burnt out by the time we got done, so I couldn't talk her into checking the pond out. While we didn't walk down the crazy stairs to the creek bed, we did have to walk up and down quite a few at the beginning/end of trail 1. I think she was also kind of disappointed there were tons of those bees swarming around the little playground area we found too. I made up for it by taking her to the park in Greencastle on the way home. ;)

             We weren't there long, and while I would love to go on some of the other trails some time, it was still definitely worth going out of our way a little. The pictures really don't do the views justice. (I know, I know. I really need to work on my photography skills.) It was worth going just for those!
             Since this park is so close to Turkey Run, which is larger and has many more amenities, it seems like it would be nice and quiet for camping at Shades. I'm hoping I can talk John into giving it a go sometime since HE'S the one who brought up camping the other night! We haven't been in years, so have never been with the kids...Wish me luck!

This Is How We Roll Thursday Party
Thinking Outside The Pot