Posts Tagged With: gift

Drum roll please…..

Matt and I had so much fun watching the poll from our first post about living on the road, thank you to everyone who voted! Jenn, Donna, Dustin, Brie, Shane, Gloria and Tiffany, it was awesome to get your comments too, thank you! Here is the final results from all of you that voted!

We looked at a few RV’s and although they would be easier and quicker to move in to, we realized that’s exactly what we don’t want! Designing the bus, taking the time and hard labor to build our home from the wheels up is just as much of the journey as living in it.

So after test driving, researching, reading, talking and YouTubing, we’ve decided on our new home. We will soon be a family of 3 on the 6 wheels of a brand new (20 year old) school bus!!

…but ours currently looks like this.

As the journey progresses, I’ll be going into full detail of how we transform this beauty into our new home. Pictures, videos, and maybe even an online video series?!

For now, I want to share with you the story behind these wheels and the family that made it happen.

Air Force Captain Nathan, his wife Jennifer and they’re little Eva are the family you want as neighbors and even more so as friends. They’re the type of people that welcome you with open arms, huge smiles and tons of genuine energy. After enduring what most of us would call a living nightmare, they have every reason to live in a world of self pity. Instead, this power duo carries a backpack-of-back bones with eyes focused positively forward.Imagine your significant other leaving in the condition of the top photo from below and returning unable to look you in your eyes (bottom photo).I now know what it’s like to be pregnant and I truly can’t imagine getting the news Jennifer woke up to just 90 days before delivery.

I was sitting here trying to describe what Captain Nathan had survived until I found this perfect recap made by Building Homes for Hero’s :

“Captain Nelson barely escaped death when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by Taliban extremists hit his forward operating base in Afghanistan in September of 2013. Tragically, his body took the brunt of the blast. He suffered a severe spinal cord injury, collapsed lungs and would lose 46 units of blood.

After undergoing several life-saving operations, he was flown to the Walter Reed Medical Center to be reunited with Jennifer, who was six months pregnant, and she has never left his side ever since. His recovery from the shrapnel wounds, TBI, collapsed lung, severely bruised organs and a massive blood transfusion, is still ongoing.

For his service and his sacrifice, Captain Nelson has been awarded the Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and several other honors. He is now paralyzed, and has limited use of one of his arms, but he and Jennifer have become inspirations to everyone they meet”.

Up for a good solid soul-cleansing cry? Watch this video of Nate sharing his experience and incredible perspective. Kind of makes your unbearable bad hair day seem a bit silly and much more tolerable.

Back to the bus…

During Nathans recovery, Jennifer bought this bus as a (brilliant) form of therapy. She was able to smash windows and rip out seats all while envisioning a new path for her and her family. She was designing the bus to be totally handicap accessible so that her husband could travel in comfort. As the years went on, Nathan not only recovered like a champ but went back to work. Meanwhile, Jennifer was also now back to work, playing supermom and maintaining wife of the year. Little time was left to spend in a dusty bus let alone traveling in it.

Fast forward to a pizza party we attended in which we were introduced to this amazing family. Our mutual friend casually said, “Hey Jenn, do you still have your bus?” (I was thinking – Cool, another traveling friend!) But to my surprise she said, “Yes, but I’m selling it now”.

I physically grabbed Matts arm when my guts alarmed me that this would soon be ours.

After viewing the bus and having a mechanic verify the engine quality (thank you Ray!), it was a no-brainer, we were going to buy it!

Except…

When discussing what the final price would be, Jennifer spoke up with confidence. (I’m paraphrasing according to what I heard).

In a gentle voice she said, “Me and my family are so blessed and have been given what we need… I believe in paying it forward and I’d be honored to be a part of the joy you’ll get and also bring to so many with this bus. I feel very good in my decision, I’d like to gift you the bus and just sign the papers over. It’ll be my contribution to your journey”.

This is when Matts jaw dropped and my eyes filled with tears. Unexpected and completely beyond our wildest dreams… in fact, it is the beginning to our wildest dreams!

Their gift will allow us to continue our adventure sooner than we thought possible! Next up, let the renovation begin!

To the Nelson family, “Thank you” seems like such an understatement for the gratitude our little family feels. We invite you to follow the process and watch as we transform your 20,000 lb baby into our new home on the road!
Categories: Bus life, Polls, Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Homemade Kahlúa!

It’s one of my favorite unique gifts to provide during the holiday season. Great for family, friends, neighbors, work partners and my personal favorite, the wrapped gift for a white elephant game!

If you want to get fancy with a long list of ingredients and a lengthy process, I suggest going online and searching recipes. However here, you’ll find a simple list of 4 items and easy approach that’ll make a quality liqueur you’ll be proud to share!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Cups – Your favorite vodka! (only 1 cup if you want it less strong)

1 1/2cup – Richly roasted dark coffee (I use locally roasted beans)

1 1/2 Cups – Organic cane sugar (use up to 2 cups if you like sweeter)

2 Tablespoons – Organic Vanilla extract (I use Madagascar Vanilla for a rich flavor)

Step 1. Brew your strong coffee.

Step 2. Add the sugar while your coffee is still hot. Stir until sugar is dissolved then add the vanilla.

Step 3. Let cool to to room temperature before adding the vodka.

Step 4. Funnel into a large container (I love using mason jars) so it can marinate as long a you need it to before distributing into adorable bottles that seal. While your masterpiece is developing into beautiful flavors, feel free to create artistic labels. If you’re gifting it, selling it or keeping it, labels just make it seem to take it up a notch. I like to use non adhesive tags so my recipients can re-use the bottle for something different once it’s empty.

So there you have it, a simple and delicious way to spread some love to those around you! I like to let mine sit for at least 48 hours before distributing, however if you’re in “need now” crisis, feel free to enjoy immediately!

Just in case you’ve never experienced the splendor of a coffee liqueur, here are some tasty ways to enjoy your new bottle in the cabinet!

-mix with milk over ice (and a splash more vodka if you want an extra kick!)

-freeze to make cubes and drop in, well, any beverage! Whiskey, chocolate milk, etc.

-top over ice cream

-use with coffee and creamer

-layer in a shot glass starting with Kahlúa, then Baileys and topped with triple sec

-splash with hot cocoa and top with whipped cream

-throw it in a blender with cream, ice, whipped flavored vodka

-add to recipes! Tiramisu, brownies, cheesecake, coffee cake, truffles, cupcakes, cookies, pie, fudge, frozen yogurt… you get it!

Disclaimer: I didn’t make any of the recipes below nor did I take any of the photos. I just want to show you a few of the several variations this delightful drink can provide.

Although most of the ingredients can be purchased at your local grocery store, here are two links to the non-edible items from above.

Glass Flip-top Bottles

Labels with twine

Enjoy! Eat, drink and be Merry!

Categories: Art, Edibles!, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DONATIONS… With our powers combined!

Back in 1982, Thanksgiving fell on November 25th and at some point during that blissful day instead of eating turkey, my dear mother was giving birth to one. Ok, enough about me.

I’m writing you with confidence that with our powers combined, we can create a unique gift to give to others whom would otherwise be out of reach. By “our powers” I’m implying your pocket book, my traveling toes and our desire to spread love.

Instead of beating around the bush or fluffing your skirt, whatever that means, I’m going to lay it out simple and straight.
From November 25th through December 31st, 2013 I’ll be gratefully accepting donations to be used in the ways described below.

I will personally match 50% of what’s received and put it directly towards the program of my next adventure. I haven’t decided where or what this will be, but I do know it’s time I temporarily put down the backpack and tune into something stirring deeper within me.

The other 50% will go into the growth and development of herhappytrails. Whatever do I mean?! A book, a documentary, another chapter in the blog, a trip to The Ellen Degeneres Show (wishfully creating that one). Truthfully, I’m not entirely sure what the next step is…
Do we ever really know? I suppose that’s the beauty of life or at least mine anyway.

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So in the next 30 days, maybe you choose to save $0.75 and skip the extra shot of espresso in your holiday-spiced-fluff coffee (that we all love) or possibly pass on the $8 car wash, you know it’s going to rain anyway. How about sending the kids on a coin hunt throughout the house. Ready, set, go!

I know what your thinking, “…but Erika, how ever do we get this gift to you?” No need to worry, there are several options!

1. Tech savvy? Click here to directly transfer funds through a secured Paypal account.
When it asks for my email, please use: universalaughter@yahoo.com

2. Have a blank check? Feel free to drop it off at any of the following locations:

Jamie at Elliot’s health food store @ 641 E Bidwell St, Folsom – Phone 916.983.9225
Kira at Tricks Gymnastics @ 370 Auto Plaza Dr, Folsom – Phone 916.351.0024
Tiffany at SugarMama’s Skin Studio @ 722 Sutter Street, Folsom – Phone 916.672.2144

3. If you live in the Sacramento area, I’ll be in Folsom from November 29th-Dec 4th. I’d be honored to meet you anywhere within running distance.

4. If you reside in Oklahoma, you know where I’ll be. I’m sure my family will lend me their vehicle to connect with you.

5. If none of the options above are a good fit, please contact me through herhappytrails.com, Facebook or email.

Other types of support are equally welcomed and will also be delivered worldwide; hugs, high-fives, positive comments, smiles… Whatever your heart feels necessary!

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My dear compassionate friends, family, clients, fellow backpackers, hosts and new members of herhappytrails.com, I now complete this message with gratitude and much love for all of your generosity.

Still on a journey led by a smile,
Erika Mae Young

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Categories: Travel talk, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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