Friday, August 8, 2014

West Michigan Weekend Part IV: De Klomp Factory & Veldheer Tulip Gardens

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Holland continued! Part four of the West Michigan saga brings us to the De Klomp Wooden Shoe Factory and Veldheer Tulip Gardens. This mesh of Dutch culture is on my list of Holland travel-musts, especially during tulip season (**note: these photos were taken at the end of May, when the the spring flowers are in bloom). If you want to see how modern wooden shoes are made, spend time admiring some of Michigan's beautiful agriculture, or just pick up some fun souvenirs, this is a great place to visit.

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DeKlomp-Veldheer-3

The man who demonstrated shoe-making for us that day was quite a character--he liked joking around, but it was easy to see he enjoyed his handiwork. We got caught up in a conversation that could've lasted longer, but were told the Veldheer farm was about to close . . . so we hurried outside to see the tulips.

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We hung out on the tulip farm for about an hour, relaxing in the shade and watching buffalo roam (for real!). I had no idea that so many varieties of tulips existed. So many colors, shapes . . . truth be told, I wouldn't have even guessed that everything I saw that day was a tulip, just because several looked like daffodils, lilies, etc. Regardless, the fields were beautiful and helped make up for the fact that the De Klomp gift store was closed by the time we left the gardens. Ah, well--c'est la vie. I'll remember to show up a little earlier next time around.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

We Bought a House!

MovingBoxes

Well, cat's out of the bag--Brad and I FINALLY crossed the T's and dotted the I's . . . and bought a house! Those of you who have followed this blog for a while or who know me personally know that this little journey (you can read a bit about it here, here, and here) has been somewhat of an unintentional headache over the past year and a half . . . but time flies, and stacks of pointless paperwork are eventually forgotten. The point is, it's a done deal and we are thrilled!

We haven't moved in yet, but right now, I'm sitting in the living room of our current place, which looks very similar to one of those "find the hidden object" games. There are boxes and packing materials everywhere, and we've accumulated so many new pieces of furniture (for the new place), it's basically a maze. Come to think of it, I've lost half my wardrobe in the shuffle, but HEY--in a couple of weeks, it'll all be packed up, transported, and I can start finding everything's new rightful spot.

Have you moved/are you moving this summer, or do you have any tips to share? Let me know in the comments!




Thursday, June 19, 2014

West Michigan Weekend Part III: Windmill Island Gardens

De Zwaan Windmill - Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]

When you visit Holland (Michigan, in this case--although, the Netherlands would also apply), it just makes sense to immerse yourself in some Dutch culture. And that's exactly what Brad and I did during the first full day of our Memorial Day/anniversary weekend trip. Starting the morning off right, we made our way to Windmill Island, home of the famous De Zwaan windmill.

De Zwaan Windmill - Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
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Built in the Netherlands in 1761, De Zwaan was brought over to the United States in the 1960s and to this day, is the only functioning, authentic Dutch windmill in the country. We enjoyed a tour inside of the windmill, starting at the bottom and working our way up through the tower to see the ins and outs of flour-making. It's amazing how much engineering goes into something we use in so many of our basic foods!


De Zwaan Windmill - Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
De Zwaan Windmill - Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]

After the tour, we meandered around the Windmill Island gardens, frolicking among tulips and admiring the lovely, little drawbridge. I even snuck up on these two sweet lovers:

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Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]

We stopped by some shops before heading out, where I got to enjoy my first wooden shoe trying-on experience. Maybe I was wearing the wrong size, but ouch--my feet were not meant for these things. I think for me, at least, wooden shoes may be best left to the Dutch (or painted and used as flower planters).

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After passing by an adorable carousel and saying hi to some peacocks (all part of the gardens), it was back to cute exteriors and more flowers. I couldn't get enough of the colors that day!
Tulips, pansies . . . there were even several unique plants to admire in the Windmill Island conservatory.

Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]
Windmill Island Gardens-[Wading in Big Shoes]

Can't you just imagine parking yourself at the gardens for an afternoon picnic or nap? Such a gorgeous place!

All good things must come to an end, though . . . and so we go on to our next adventure. Any guesses as to where we stopped next? Sound off in the comments below!
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