Spring Vacation

Living here in cold Minnesota, I love planning a Spring vacation…a warm getaway before our beautiful Minnesota summer weather sets in.  I start planning right after the holidays are over.  It has to be somewhere warm with sand and sun.  As a family, we love to go to Hawaii –  Maui is our favorite island.  We have been visiting Maui since 1998 and our sons just love it.  There are so many cool things to do and see on the island.

There are some things that you should do at least once when you visit the state of Hawaii.  Among these, would be a Luau.  These are typically large gatherings with lots of tourists but it can be a fun experience.  The best part of the Luau for me is not the food, but rather the culture and entertainment value that the Luau shows provide. I really like the fire dancers 🙂

A whale watch cruise is something we try to do at least once while we are visiting!  I think it is our favorite excursion.  Because we like to travel during the time that the whales migrate, there is always plenty of activity. We have always been lucky enough to see whales – but even if you weren’t, the view of the island from the water is spectacular!

I love a beautiful sunrise and sunset.  Among the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen is the view from Mt. Haleakala, a dormant volcano 10,000 feet above sea level.  You will need to leave your hotel at about 3:30 in the morning (wear a warm jacket) to make the drive to the top…fingers crossed it is a clear morning. The experience is spiritual and it is clear to see why the name Haleakala means “house of the sun.”

 

One of our favorite day trips is driving the road to Hana.  This is a full day trip and you will want to be prepared.  Have a full tank of gas and pack a lunch, or stop in Pa’ia town at the sandwich shop for a box lunch.  This beautiful drive is very steep and winding with narrow roads and passes and over 59 bridges….46 of which are only one lane wide.  The views are breathtaking! If there has been rain, the waterfalls are flowing and you get the sense you are in a tropical rainforest.

These are just a few of the things we like to do when we visit Maui.  There are so many others…. the beach, snorkeling in Molokini Crater, dinner at Mama’s Fish House (don’t miss it) and hanging out in Lahaina town.  And of course, make sure you watch the sunset….at least once.

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Pura Vida

Pura Vida is the law of the land in Costa Rica.  It literally means “Pure Life,” but to Costa Ricans it means much more. It means that no matter what your current situation is in life, for someone else, it can always be less fortunate than your own, so you need to consider that maybe – just maybe – your situation isn’t all that bad and that no matter how little or how much you have in life, we are all here together. Life is short, so start living it “Pura Vida style.”

Our goal for our family vacation to Costa Rica was “Pura Vida.” We were going to go and be all in. Our plan was to experience all that Costa Rica had to offer, the biodiversity, the waterfalls, beaches, volcanoes and rainforests!

It all started when my husband and I were trying to think of Christmas presents for our 26 and 22 year old boys.  They don’t need more “stuff” is what we said, they both are paying back student loans, meaning they are working, going to school and really grinding it out (at least as best as a millennial can do).  So we decided, while we can, to take them with us on a memory making vacation. Costa Rica!

We don’t necessarily like doing the same things. Me?  Give me a beach and a spa and I am a happy camper.  Dad?  He wants a golf course and good Internet to keep working, even on vacation.  Connor?  He wants new experiences and a sports bar.  Alec?  He loves a challenge and meeting new people.  So how to combine all 4 of us and have a great time?  Costa Rica seemed perfect with its rugged rainforests, Pacific beaches and TONS of adventures for everyone!

We zip lined the first day (even though I am not fond of heights) and had a blast! Sailing through the tree tops was exhilarating and we had our guides to ourselves, so on a break, we had the bonus of getting to know these 20-something year old Costa Ricans and found out that the education system in Costa Rica is great!  Many go on to college and the government helps to make that happen!  The kids had a great time talking nightlife with the guides.  Pura Vida!

The second day we beached it, foot race competition between Dad and the boys resulted in the video below…hilarious!  But the unplanned sunset together with some champagne and Neil Young playing in the background provided the perfect night for mama to just “BE” with her boys. Pura Vida!

Third day we drove through 4 hours of small towns, stumbled on a festival and ended up at the Arenal volcano and the hot springs.  Wow!  Sloths, snakes, monkeys and birds provided incredible beauty. And with a total of 8+ hours together trapped in a van with just our family, we had lots of family time to share past travel stories, love it when the boys are captive and they HAVE to talk!  Pura Vida!

Day 4 was crazy cool with white water rafting in the rain forest.  Costa Rica is one of only 2 places in the world where you can white water raft in a rainforest.  We each got dumped out of the boat and we all took a much-needed break by swimming in a waterfall in the middle of nowhere!!!  This was my favorite day! Pura Vida!

 

I got to spend a lot of time together with my boys and that makes mama happy.  I always say I got 3 wishes – John, Connor & Alec.  My boys.  Pura Vida!

Pura Vida may be my 2017 life motto!  What’s yours?

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My Summer Tradition

Pretty much every summer for the majority of my life, I have traveled to Lake of the Woods.  Have you heard of it?  It occupies parts of the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, and northern Minnesota.  It is over 70 miles long and wide and has 14,552 islands.

When I was young, we would attach one of those Winnebago foldout campers to the back of our car, and drive three hours up and three hours back.  Somehow, we packed: my parents, my brother, a couple of my stepbrothers and sisters and our huge black standard poodle, Mitzi into the car.  We did this EVERY weekend of the summer!  This is where I sat on a bee and got my first sting, and had my first wee little crush on a boy a few campers down.

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From the Winnebago, we graduated to a little white house on Rainy River. Rainy River runs into the big lake and is just outside of Baudette, Minnesota, population about 1,100. Now that we had the benefit of heat, plumbing, etc., we started traveling here during the winter months, too . . . again, EVERY weekend.  This is about the time where I just wanted to be home on the weekend.  I had friends and a social life where, if I missed out on something happening, my life would be over and I would die (I’m a teenager now). I had a hard time convincing my parents I should stay home so, instead, I would bring my friends along.

lynne-blog-3-2There is a tiny little island that my best friend, Jillie, and I would love to sneak off to. She had a tiny fishing boat, kind of like a dinghy. She would pull up to my dock, pick me up and off we went.  We were always alone on this island; it was like our little secret.  The island was very remote, had nothing on it to speak of except a bunch of sand ,so no one ever ventured there but us. One time, we thought we would be super grown up and sophisticated and sunbathe topless.  That was the very rare time that another fishing boat came floating by.  Now, the island has somehow been discovered and is full of big boats and lots of families picnicking.  My family and I still love to go there.

My parents decided to build their dream home at the Lake about the time I was starting my own family.  I had moved to Minneapolis and, so now, the three-hour drive is a seven-hour drive.  The drive takes us through many quiet, small towns and truly is a slice of Americana.  Homes with wrap-around front porches, lawn art and flags waving proudly.  Nobody is in a hurry to get anywhere, and everything is slowed way down.  So lovely.

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There really isn’t that much to do at the lake . . . except for fishing, and so heading out onto the huge lake means spending the entire day on the boat . . . fishing.  I’m not that great of a fisherwoman as it takes great patience, and I get extremely bored waiting for something to happen.  We usually catch walleye and trout.  Nowadays, we bring a couple of boats onto the lake and have fishing competitions between them, which can get really loud and boisterous.  To this day, my boat has never won.

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Fourth of July celebrations at the lake are my favorite part. Thousands of people come into Baudette for the street fair and fireworks.  At the street fair you can listen to bagpipes, enjoy fried walleye, get a tattoo or our favorite thing, watch someone else get a tattoo. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the tattoo truck is located right next to the Beer Garden. At dusk, it is so cool to see all the families sitting on blankets with their coolers, fluorescent light-up necklaces and twirly thingies in anticipation for the fireworks.  Our neighbors in Canada across the river have lit up American flags in their backyards as a sign of friendship.  The fireworks are choreographed to music, and always end with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” When it’s all over and we’re walking back to the car, it’s always the feeling of “best night ever.”

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What’s a Hoosier Anyway?

Last week my family and I set out on our longest road trip to date. Minneapolis, MN to Bloomington, IN.   I can’t believe I didn’t discuss road trips in my earlier blogs . . . isn’t this the season dedicated to hours in the car eating junk food, listening to the radio and counting cows?! I feel like it’s a rite of passage for every American child, and mine were totally up for the challenge.

Backing out of the driveway, my hubby had ‘Holiday Road’ blaring from the speakers (all great road trips must pay homage to Nat’l Lampoons Vacation, whether Aunt Edna is with you or not) and both boys were armed with their favorite movies, headphones and snacks for days. I planned to use these hours to catch up on email, sort through photos on my phone and make sure our family calendar was on point when we returned. But, as always, motion sickness set in half way through my first email and in lieu of being productive, I counted cows.

I feel like when we travel, we throw all rules out the windows. Bed times, nutrition, screen time, all take a back seat to accommodate the road trippin’ timeline. So, when we made our first stop in Chicago, already past the boy’s bedtime, it was fitting that we entered the lobby of the hotel to some serious bass, dark lights and a bar full of 20-somethings in their finest “I’m looking for a date” fashions. The lobby bar was a total club scene and there I stood with my family, covered in chip crumbs, ice cream spills and backpacks full of stuffed animals and dinosaurs. (Parenthood Erin blog 3 fireworkssure does change a Saturday night.) We definitely cramped the cool-kids weekend vibes and found immediate refuge up a few levels in our room. My kids were thrilled to be up way past their bed time, ordering pizza in bed and watching the Olympics. And if that wasn’t good enough, just like in a movie, outside our huge picture window, over-looking Lake Michigan, a fireworks show erupted right in front of us and for the first time in 8 hours, we were all silent, staring out the window. What a treat!! I could get used to this. But all good things must come to an end and all good kids must hit the hay (as my dad would say), lights were soon out and we were all happily in bed.

Erin blog 3 Chi2The next day, we had breakfast in bed, went swimming in the rooftop pool and took the boys on the Navy Pier ferris wheel before packing back up. Next stop: Bloomington, IN. The home of Indiana University, my husband’s Alma Mater. He’s a third generation Hoosier and couldn’t be more proud. By the time we Erin blog 3 ferrisarrived on campus, he was already plotting out what fraternity our boys would pledge, where they will live on campus and how to get the best seats at Assembly Hall for a little IU Bball. (Side note: I really love his love of his school, but grooming our boys this early in life is just not fair to me and my hometown University of MN Golden Gopher pride. Not to mention, I’ll never stop crying if my boys move that far away from me. A counter plan to keep my boys in MN begins now . . . I’ll keep you posted on the progress.) We quickly jumped out of the car and did a walking tour Erin blog 3 IU familythrough campus. Even though IU is a rival Big Ten school to my U o MN, I have to admit, that campus is beautiful!!! After a dinner at one of his favorite restaurants, my husband took the boys to the book store to load up on all things Hoosier red and white. Outfits, posters, stuffed animals (are you kidding me?? This is too much), my boys emerged from the store looking like the newest freshman recruits. We checked IU off our road trip list and got to bed, the next day we were taking off for destination number three.

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Lake Wawasee, in Syracuse, IN is where my husband spent every summer of his childhood. Leaving IU and driving north to Lake Wawasee, my boys were already in their swim trunks, sunscreen on, ready to dive into the Erin blog 3 slidewater as soon as we arrived. Pulling into the cottage my husband spent weeks at as a kid, we made this insanely long road trip, worth every minute. The lake is clear and clean, there are boats and jet skis and toys for everyone. And the cottage is a perfect setting to enjoy the final few days of summer.

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My oldest, William, has a brand new Go Pro that he proudly wore as he jumped in the lake and sped around on the jet ski. James, our baby (fine. He’s almost 5, but will always be my baby) worked up the courage to make the giant lily pad his stomping grounds. We swam, boated, ate and repeated for 36 Erin blog 3 jetskihours! It was mostly marvelous, with just a few minor meltdowns. I mean no family of four can go 36 hours without a few meltdowns over whose turn it is anyway and who was really responsible for dropping the brand new Go Pro and letting it sink to the bottom of the lake . . . right? Right. Other than a few minor mishaps, we returned each night to the cottage a brand new shade of tan (even though we wear a lot of sunscreen) and a whole new level of exhausted.

It was bittersweet packing up for our final voyage, not only because I simply adore time with my three boys, but also because Syracuse, IN to Minneapolis, MN is no joke. About 10 hours, with stops and a nasty rain storm, to get back to home sweet home. But on our way home, there was definitely a sense of pride from all four of us. The kids were thrilled with the new adventures and are already plotting ways to permanently eat breakfast in bed. My husband was beaming with pride that his family had a blast in his favorite state. And I, to be real honest, am thrilled that I was able to keep this family unit in one piece, without massive meltdown for a total of 1000+ miles across the Midwest. Phew.

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Thanks for taking this road trip with me! Next stop: Vancouver with my college roomies . . .

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Together

I treasure my friendships!  My husband Lewis is my best friend – we are great companions and have the best time together.  We also enjoy spending time with an amazing group of friends that we met through Evine years ago.  We’ve remained close and enjoy traveling together.  We consider ourselves very lucky to have a great group of friends like this. What’s so cool about this group is the age range – 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s! The thirty-somethings teach us old dogs a thing or two.  Talk about great dating conversation!  Wow, wow, wow!!  Times have changed since Lewis and I were dating!

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One of our favorite weekends with them is our canoe trip to Wisconsin.  We spend a leisurely weekend at our friend Lisa’s cabin – laughing, eating and catching up on life.  This is an annual trip that’s been going on for 10 years! We all sign up for our food assignment a couple of weeks out.  Who’s doing dinner?  Well, it’s usually my sweet Lew and our dear friend Brett – they’re both talented when it comes to cooking.  I love to bake a cake or bring a fun dessert, and everyone else signs up for breakfast or lunch on the Namekagan River.  Oh . . . and someone’s always given the fun cocktail assignment!  We spend all day Saturday floating down the river enjoying the beauty of nature and just being together.  We love that word ‘together’ and we use it a lot.

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With this great group of friends we always travel to some place new every October.  We try to pick a place that none of us have ever been to, and all get to experience something new together.  We’ve been to the vineyards in California, Whidbey Island in Washington, Savannah, Georgia and, this year, we’re going to Santa Barbara, California.  What a treasure friendship is!

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We love to close out the year together celebrating the holiday season. Lewis and I host a Christmas get-together for our group at our house.  We enjoy an amazing meal – last year it was lobster!  Then we enjoy exchanging gifts and doing a fun elephant gift exchange too! This night goes on forever with fun games, great conversation and everyone usually ends up spending the night.

I feel incredibly grateful for our friendships.  We’ve been through a lot together and it feels so good knowing that you have their love and support.

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Cheers to friendship!

 

 

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The Great Outdoors

I’ve never been one with nature.  In fact, the whole idea of interacting with nature has often scared me to into a wild fit of screaming and dancing about like a crazy lady (it all started in third grade with an unexpected visit from a snake . . . eww.  And remind me to tell you about the gecko in Petite St Vincent. I still get shivers up my spine!).  Don’t get me wrong, I love and honor this great planet and respect all living creatures.  They each make this world beautiful and I love observing it . . . from a comfortable distance.

Erin blog 2 swimmingBut every year, my parents, my brother’s family and my family (#TeamNewburg) road trip to northern Minnesota for a week of family time and inevitably becoming one with nature.  This week I’m ‘up north’ with my family and we’re having a blast playing card games, swimming (in the chlorinated pool), taking long walks, snuggling up for movies and ‘unplugging’, as they say.  It’s been an annual trip we’ve taken for the past 8 years.  My boys just love spending time with their grandparents and cousins.  My husband gets more golf in this week than he does all year. My sister-in-law and I eat all Erin blog 2 fishingthe carbs we want.  My dad gets up extra early to take his grandsons fishing and teaches them how to cast and reel.  It really is a special week of family time that I treasure.

It is also a time that brings me insanely and uncomfortably close with the beauty of our great state.  In just a few short days, we’ve seen the following:

  1. Erin blog 2 turtleSnakes basking in the sun on the walking bridge
  2. Turtles taking a break on lily pads
  3. A frog on our grill, just in time for happy hour
  4. A wolf quietly observing from hole #5
  5. A bear, in the ditch watching the cars go by
  6. Eagles circling the pine trees, looking for lunch
  7. A deer surprising us in the gravel parking lot
  8. And more bees, mosquitos, birds, squirrels and chipmunks than we can count!!

Erin blog 2 hand in handIt’s incredible how beautiful a family vacation can be.  Not only for the uninterrupted time together, but also the reminder that even our greatest fears (whether reasonable or not!) can still provide the most amazing beauty.  I sit here in awe of what our great state of Minnesota has to offer and am thankful it provides a place for my family and I to enjoy the simplicity of life.  Lets be clear, I’ll still keep a healthy distance and there will definitely be many more unreasonable episodes of terror.  But, for this one week, I will become one with nature and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

Erin blog 2 fish cleaningI’d love to know how you and your family get away. We’re always looking for ideas for our family.

What do you love most about your state?

What’s your take on the great outdoors? Observe from a distance or become one with it?!?

 

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Who wants to come to work with me?

Heather blogSeeing as it’s now summer, lots of you are getting ready for your vacations and time away.  Maybe it’s packing up the car and going camping, to an amusement park, seeing family, or maybe something completely different!  For those of you who are staying around home but still need to ‘get away’ if even for just a moment, I’ve got a great idea: ever wondered what a day looks like as an Evine host? Let me take you to work with me for the day!

The first thing you need to know – the only thing that stays consistent is change! Our schedule is never the same day by day, week by week, and sometimes even hour by hour.

Today is a Friday and I wake up at 6 am to enjoy a much needed hot cup of coffee, then off to Pilates by 7am. After my workout I grab a quick shower and protein shake. There are a few glamorous errands that NEED to be done today such as buying cat food, cat litter, cat toys, cat nip…do you see a theme here?  I arrive at the Evine studio by 11 am and ready to start my shopping day with you, but guess what? I won’t see you on the air until 6:00pm for Before and After Beauty.

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As I pass our security station, I notice we have a new guard. I spend the next 5 minutes explaining that I am, in fact, the woman whose face is on my badge. Funny how this never happens when I have makeup on!

As soon as I enter the building, I’m off to my first meeting of the day.   I swear I can hear the angels singing as I open the door to the meeting room… it’s a shopping free-for-all with the jewelry buyers! Tray after tray of beautiful jewelry are spread across the table. Together we try one and drool over the merchandise, wishing we could take it all home with us. Once we’ve had our fun, we get down to business by reviewing customer reviews and feedback to identify what you (our viewers) want to see. I tell them what questions you call in with while I’m on the air and also keep a list of your personal requests for our talented designers. Michael Valitutti’s team shares some exciting new items in the world of cameos; Chuck Clemency’s team has a hot new design in morganite; and Dallas Prince’s team…well I have been sworn to secrecy, but you just wait! Overall, a very productive meeting.

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Now it’s down to the beauty offices. This place feels like home to me. It’s a paradise of plush couches, elegant light fixtures, and more beauty products than a girl could ever dream of. Here I get to slather on new creams, and check out the hot summer lipstick colors. The biggest question I hear from all of you is, “Heather do you REALLY use that?” My answer is always “Yes!” I sample every last item in each collection I present to you. Obviously, I cannot use them all everyday or I would never leave my vanity!!

Next, it’s back to the host room. I have my cue cards and show plans strewn about. I scribble all of my notes on each card so I don’t forget to ask the questions I know you want answered. My research takes at least 2 hours for show. After visiting with each of my 4 guests for 15 minutes each, I feel prepared to take you shopping.

What I do next is one of my favorite parts of the day. It’s a trip to the pink room! This where our amazing stylist Annabelle does her magic. She transforms my messy pilates pony tail to a long silky blowout that finally has me looking like my Evine badge. It’s now 1 hour to showtime and I sit with our whole team (producer, director, visual stylist and sales manager) discussing the flow of the show… or at least how we THINK the show will go. Then we get a good laugh as we realize live TV never goes as planned.  In the few short minutes before the cameras roll, I put in my earpiece and position my microphone, the lights dim and studio goes quiet. I sit down at the vanity in studio E and get ready to say “Good Friday evening everyone and welcome into Before and After Beauty”. You all know how the rest of my night goes as you and I go shopping together through your television.

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I am back home and in my PJ’s by 10pm, already excited for my 6 am wake up call to do it all again. I love my job!

 

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Summer vacation!

Summertime for me is going on a really cool vacation!  I start planning our vacations months in advance.  I find so much joy in researching the destination that we plan on visiting. I will go online to read reviews of hotels, restaurants and museums. I even ask my friends and family their advice on what they recommend if they have been to that destination before.

For me, it is like being a child again anticipating Christmas gearing up for the trip.  I’m very lucky that my husband and I both enjoy the same things and we both have a passion for travel and experiencing new places every year.

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This year we planned our first trip to Italy to celebrate my 50th birthday.  It was a trip of a lifetime and a dream come true for me.  We landed in Venice on my 50th birthday and then traveled to the Tuscany region and toured some great wineries and had dinner with Stefano and his lovely Mel Stefanowife!  He is one of our best gold vendors and has been going on-air at EVINE for almost 20 years!

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I also had dinner with my friend Manuela Biancospino in Rome. She is another fabulous guest and represents the Toscana Jewelry line.

 

MEl UffiziWe enjoyed going to the Uffizi museum and the Accademia Gallery to see David – just incredible.  From there we left Florence for Positano and Capri, and enjoyed the Mediterranean for a week before finishing our trip in Rome!  We had great walking tours and also were lucky enough to see Pope Francis give his blessing in St. Peter’s Square on Father’s Day.

What about you? Where would you like to go on a trip?  A vacation doesn’t need to be anywhere far off or exotic to be a dream come true, it can be down the block or around the corner!  I’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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