Thursday, December 21, 2017

2017 Gift Guide : last minute gifts

We are days away from Christmas so if you still have any gifts to buy it is crunch time! At this point your shopping options are very few and far between; you can't even Amazon Prime a gift and get it in time. One of my favorite last minute gift ideas is to put together a themed basket. Themed baskets are great because you can buy everything you'd need at Target or Walmart or similar stores. They're also great because all you really have to know about the person is a general idea of what they like to do. I've put together a few of my favorite themed ideas to help anyone still shopping!

1. At Home Spa Night - Know a girl that needs a relaxing night at home? This is the basket for her. Start with a bath bomb or bubblebath, a face mask, and some nail polish. Add a candle, some fancy chocolates, or a bottle of wine. Finish with a couple magazines (Garden and Gun and Glamour are my personal favorites) or favorite podcast recommendations.

2. Movie Night - This is great for the couple who just had a baby or love spending time together at home. Start with a movie, Kingsman and Wonderwoman are my favorite recent releases, but a holiday movie is always good too. Add some popcorn and a box or two of the movie theater candies. Finish with a cozy blanket or a gift card for delivery pizza.

3. Game Night - This is the perfect last minute gift for families. Start with a board game or two, Battleship is a great classic option or this Pie Face game looks like a fun newer game. Finish with some fun snacks and drinks. Think fun snack mixes, hot chocolate mix, and sodas in glass bottles.

4. Cooking Night - My boyfriend and I love to cook together so maybe I'm biased but I think this is such a fun gift. Start with some cute dishtowels, cooking utensils or an apron. Add some fun spices or  unique sauces; World Market and William Sonoma always have great selections for this. Finish it with a bottle of wine, cookbook, or grocery store gift card. This one is so great because you can customize it to what they like to cook, or even switch it up with baking items.

5. A Day on the Water - Obviously can't forget about the men in your life! Lures start at a low price point and come in so many varies they're fun to buy. If you don't know what type to buy (I wouldn't know where to start) ask a salesperson or someone in the aisle who looks like they're shopping for themselves; fishing people love to share their knowledge. Add a hat or shirt, Columbia PFGs and Guy Harvey tees are great even off the water. Finish it with a 6 pack of beer all wrapped in a small ice chest.

Don't have time to put a basket together? Starbucks' holiday collection is great this year; grab a travel mug and a gift card and you're set. Another great option is to get a gift card to a restaurant you know they frequent; put it in a thoughtful card explaining you're gifting them a date night. As you can probably tell I love gifting experiences so I think memberships (zoo, art museum, rec center, etc) are a perfect gift.

What are your favorite last minute gifts?

Friday, December 15, 2017

2017 Gift Guide - my favorite things

I'm excited to bring you my next gift guide of the season! You know how Oprah did a favorite things episode every winter? Well this is my favorite things post! It's so easy to get carried away by what's new and popular when making these guides that I think we sometimes forget the importance of sharing things we love. Gifting favorite things is such a great idea because you know exactly what you're gifting.

Kendra Scott necklace - I love the simplicity of Kendra Scott jewelry. I actually own this necklace in two colors and it's perfect. It's small enough to wear every day but larger than the Elsa. Plus it's an old style and on sale!

Evelyn Henson Artwork - While I don't own this exact print I do own a few of Evelyn's pieces. They're all bright and fun to make a great addition to your gallery wall. Her map prints are especially fun and would make a great gift for anyone on your list.

Beanboots - I know bean boots are so basic white girl, but there's a reason they're so popular. They have great traction for walking on the icy ground, but are also perfect for chilly rainy days in the south. I actually own this exact pair and love the uniqueness of the navy color.

heated blanket - This may be my favorite thing ever. I brought one on Black Friday last year it is hands down the best purchase I've ever made. There are a variety of prints so this is a great gift for anyone on your list, and at less than $25 you can afford to get one for yourself too!

Smartwool socks - I had never heard of Smartwool until I moved to Colorado, but now I can't imagine my life without them. Maybe I'm weird but I think socks make a great gift. They're something you know will be used but still feel like a bit of a luxury because they're more expensive than your basic white crew cuts.

Philosophy soap - Again, call me weird but I love gifting soaps and for the same reason! All Philosophy products smell great so you can't go wrong with a scent. I'm currently using this Snow Angel in my shower and love it. Plus Philosophy body washes can be used as shampoo and bubblebath too.

Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket - I bought this on a whim last winter during a sale and I'm so glad I did. It feels more put together than my puffy, but is surprisingly very warm. Patagonia is a great quality brand that anyone will be excited to unwrap. My boyfriend has the better sweater vest and highly recommends it too!

Pendant Necklace - Akola is a brand you can feel good about buying because it supports women in need by providing them work. I love the vibrant colors of their jewelry and the pendants are very unique. I own a few of their necklaces but this is my favorite style because its more simple yet makes a statement.

Want more favorite things? Check out this favorite things guide from 2014, featuring items I still love.

Friday, December 8, 2017

2017 Gift Guide - boys boys boys

I've spent more time than usual looking through gift guides for guys this year. This is the boy and I's first Christmas together so the pressure to get a good gift is real! I picked out his gift fairly early, but Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I like to be prepared so I've looked at every guide I see for ideas. He also guessed his gift before I could actually press purchase so I was toying around with the idea of totally throwing him off and getting something different, but I know I picked something perfect so I decided to stick with it.

Google Home Mini - This is actually what I bought the boy this year. When he first mentioned wanting one I thought it sounded really weird, but then I realized you can use it to control your lights and I was sold.

smartphone projector  - When I first saw this in the Nordstrom gift guides I knew I had to include it! Guys love getting cool gadgets and this one is a great price and unique. I know how much use you'd get out of it; but I could see this being a big hit with dads or preteens.

Columbia shirt - We've bought my dad so many of these over the years and he's always stoked to unwrap one. They're labeled fishing shirts, but they're so great to wear anytime. They come in so many colors, and some fun patterns, and pack well.

wireless ear buds - A great gift for someone who works out or travels often. There are so many available at a variety of price points you'll find a pair to fit any budget.

slippers - Such a good gift wether you're buying for your dad or boyfriend. This is the brand our on mountain restaurants provide to guests to wear while dining and I've wanted a pair since I first slipped them on. Seriously the most comfortable things I've ever put on my feet.

beanie - Living in the mountains you can never have too many beanies. I really liked how this one was simple but in a fun color. This is a practical gift he'll get tons of use from. Well I guess not too practical if he doesn't live where it gets cold.

dopp kit - Another great gift for the guy that travels and available at a variety of price points so they'll fit any budget. If you're looking to really wow and have a large budget you could place some plane tickets inside!

cook book - Maybe it's a guy specific cookbook or one with recipes you can cook together. This is a fun gift that you can easily make more elaborate by adding some cookware or specialty food or alcohol to create something really special.

tennis shoes - Help him enhance his wardrobe with a cool new pair of kicks. I'm really jealous that guys can wear tennis shoes with more things than I can, so I feel like they should embrace that privilege. If I were a guy I'd wear these blue ones every day.

What are your gift ideas for guys?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

2017 Gift Guide - things on my list

Finally kicking off gift guide season here on the blog. Personally I finished all my shopping on Cyber Monday, but maybe you weren't as on the ball as I was this year and you're still shopping. If you're still shopping for me, you're in luck! I decided to start my 2017 gift guides off with the most important person, me!

Jon Hart Bag - I actually ordered one of these bags before my Vegas trip this fall, but due to slow turnover times it wasn't going to get here in time and I canceled my order. I still really want one of these because they're cute and I know the quality will be good.

Travel Lingerie Bag - I've been wanting one off these bags for awhile. I recently realized how much traveling I did this year, and I'm hoping to do as much in 2018. Having one of these to help organize my suitcase would be great.

Heavy Pot - I rented my townhouse furnished which means we have an eclectic mix of pots and pans. The one I'm missing is a good heavy pot to use to simmer soups all day. One of my favorite foods is red beans and rice, which you let cook all day, and I don't have a single pot I'd feel confident cooking it in.

Black Watch - I've wanted a black watch for years but just have never pulled the trigger and gotten one. It doesn't have to be Micheal Kors, but I love how simple this one is. I don't want one that's covered in rhinestones.

Fire Tablet - I actually bought myself one on Black Friday and I'm so glad I did because I already love it! I've been wanting a tablet for a while because even though I have a smart tv in my room I can't figure out how to get my HBO Go on i, first world problems I know. I can also use my tablet when I travel and to read ebooks.

Kate Spade Vase - You know those items that even years later you regret not buying? That's how I feel about this vase. I didn't buy it when it first came out because $75 seems excessive for something you're just putting flowers in, but I still lust after it all this time later.

Candle - How many candles is too many? The limit does not exist. When it comes to candles my favorites are baked goods scented. I've heard great things about this brand, so I'd love to try one, especially in this sugar cookie scent!

What's on your list this year? Be sure to check back for the rest of my 2017 gift guides!

Monday, November 20, 2017

4 ways to save money holiday shopping

How crazy is it that we're already talking about holiday shopping!? With Black Friday later this week gift guides and sales ads seem to be all that's on the internet at the moment. I won't be sharing my gift guides until later, but I couldn't let the start of holiday shopping season go by without a post. I still have a few gifts to get (if anyone's seen any good guides for dogs or boyfriend's parents please send them my way), but I've actually done almost all my holiday shopping this year. I'm going home next week to visit my family and it just made more sense to have gifts shipped there, wrap them, and leave them under the tree before I come back to Vail. Holiday shopping is fun, but it can easily get expensive. Today I wanted to share 4 ways to save money holiday shopping!

1. Make a list - saving money holiday shopping is really all about being efficient and making a list is my favorite way to be efficient. I wrote this post last year about deciding who to buy a gift for, and I think it's one of the most important posts I've ever written. The most obvious way to save money is by not buying so much; making a list (and checking it twice!) ensures you're buying only for those you really want to buy for and don't get carried away.

2. Stick to a budget - I love giving gifts which is great for my sense of goodwill to men but not so great for my bank account. Once you've made a list of who to buy for you can make a budget. I like to make a total budget and then decide from that how much I can spend on each person. Going over $10 or $20 on a person may not seem like much, but that quickly adds up if it happens with everyone on your list.

3. Shop around - This tip works best if you know what you want to buy someone already. Just do a simple google search of that item and black Friday deals and if it's on sale somewhere the ads will pop up. Growing up I loved to look though the newspaper ads on Thanksgiving to see what was going to be on sale the next day, but now thanks to the rise of online shopping stores have already announced their sales days ahead of time!

4. Know your deals - Some stores do the same Black Friday specials every year; this is nice because it takes some of the guess work out. If you know your favorite store usually does a certain discount across the whole store you can figure out how that gift fits into your budget. Another deal I love to use is exchanging my credit card points for gift cards. You can either gift these cards or use the cards to buy gifts. And if you plan on doing online shopping, make sure to use Ebates!

What are your tips to save money holiday shopping?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

12 Winter Coats under $200

Confession, before I moved to Vail two years ago ( how has it already been two years!?) I didn't own a coat. I owned a North Face fleece jacket and a Patagonia Fleece and that was more than good enough to get me through the bitter winters of Mississippi. One of the first things I bought when I decided to make the move was a coat, a no-brainer thing your wardrobe needs in a ski town. That first coat purchase sparks a serious love affair with this wardrobe staple. While I love coats; I don't love their price tags. While browsing the Nordstrom fall sale I noticed they had a great coat collection at great prices. Today I decided to share 12 winter coats under $200.

A dark neutral, like black or navy, are usual go-tos for a winter coat because they go with so much. But I'm personally a big fan of something more fun like yellow! Last fall I actually bought a yellow coat very similar to the one pictured and wearing it is so fun! At the risk of sounding extra basic, I think adding a leopard print coat to my closet is my deepest wardrobe desire.

What do you look for in a winter coat?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

8 things I'm thankful for right now

I'm currently in the most stressful and busy three weeks of work I've ever experienced. Working in Vail most people experience a ton of seasonality in their jobs with May and October traditionally being the slow periods. So I was totally unprepared for this work load. For the 10 day stretch that I'm in I have a group with events every single day, some days multiple groups with events. Add to that the fact that we're upgrading our computer system and I'm the "area expert" responsible for chairing the group rebuilding the whole thing and you can see I've got a lot on my plate at the moment.

My office has dubbed me Polly Anna because overtime training gets intense I have something positive to say. Honestly it's because if I don't keep reminding myself of the positive things I might end up crying. In that spirit and the spirit of Thanksgiving today I wanted to share 8 things I'm thankful for right now.

1. Taylor Swift's new CD comes out Friday! To say I'm pumped about Taylor putting out new music is an extreme understatement. Taylor gets me on a deep level and I connect with more of her songs than any other artist out there. From the singles she's put out so far from this album she really seems to be coming into her own and I think that's so exciting.

2. I'm sleeping with my heated blanket nightly without feeling like I'm being overdramatic. Last Black Friday I bought this heated blanket from Target and it was the best $15 I've ever spent. Our electric bill is outrageous in the winter, but having this blanket keeps me toasty warm without having to turn the heat up as high. It looks like it'll be part of Target's Black Friday sale again this year!

3. It's large mugs full of soup season. Call me boring but I don't think there is any lunch better than a soup and sandwich. When the temperatures drop there is nothing as satisfying as a hot mug full of soup. If you remember from last year's gift guides my sister gifted me Chrissy Teigen's cookbook Cravings and she has a recipe for Chunky Creamy Mushroom Soup I'm planning to try in the next few weeks.

4. The Christmas bug seems to have bitten everyone early this year. I'm usually a big proponent of not skipping over holidays, something that stems from an old family rule of not talking about someone's birthday unless they were next in line. But this year I'm totally jumping on the skipping Thanksgiving bandwagon. Even though this will be my third Thanksgiving away from home it still feels wrong to celebrate the day anyway but with my mom in the kitchen. Add that to the fact that Christmas is my favorite holiday and I'm all kinds of holly and jolly. I was watching Christmas movies and listening to my holiday playlist on November 1 this year.

5. It'll soon be cold enough to wear my favorite beanie every day. One of the very first items I bought when I decided to make the move to Colorado two years ago was this adorable Helly Hansen beanie and it quickly became a wardrobe staple. It's actually funny because without knowing it I ended up buying the brand that's the official brand of our resort!

6. I'm going home to Mississippi at the end of the month. When I went home in July for my birthday I thought that'd be the last time I saw my family until 2018 because winter flights are usually so expensive in and out of Denver. Like I get it, everyone is trying to come ski, but I'm just trying to return to the land of sweet tea and humidity. Thanks to maybe the best Southwest sale I've ever seen I'm getting to go home for a week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And as an added bonus I just found out my boyfriend gets to come too!

7. I've reached the point where I feel comfortable in my job. Even though this week is by far the most stressed I've ever felt in a job I honestly feel like I'm doing as good a job as anyone could in this situation. I've been in my position about 4 months and I think I'm finally getting the hang of everything. I should probably knock on wood though because this system upgrade means we're changing most of our SOPs and winter means a totally different type of group business.

8. I've figured out a way to make flannel shirts work appropriate. I finally don't have to wear a uniform to work anymore and while I'm thrilled to not be wearing something so ill fitting and uncomfortable trying to figure out how to make winter wear work appropriate was a challenge. I've discovered that a flannel paired with a pencil skirt, tights, and booties is both cute and office appropriate. I recently added this one and this one to my collection.

What are you thankful for currently?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Guilt free Cheat Days

For the past about two months I've really been trying to be better about my eating habits (maybe you noticed it included in my September and October goals). I've come to the realization that going to the gym is just not something I enjoy and have a very difficult time making a priority. So in order to live a healthier life I've accepted that what I put into my body is going to make all the difference. Luckily I genuinely like fresh fruits, veggies, and salads; however, I also really love tacos, donuts, and anything pumpkin flavored. In order to not go on a complete bender I know I need cheat days to survive. But not all cheat days are made equally. Today I wanted to share a few of my tips for guilt free cheat days.

1. Using veggies instead of chips - Chips and dip is one of my favorite foods; I could eat chips and guacamole all day every day. But if I'm being honest the dip is really the part I'm interested in consuming copious amounts of. If you slice a cucumber and load it up with enough dip I promise you won't even mind that you're not putting a Wavy Lays in your mouth. Carrots with ranch, celery with peanut butter, and bell peppers with hummus are all great options too. 

2. Make your own snack mix - I work next to a cupcake shop and a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory so when the afternoon munchies hit I need an alternative or else I'm going to support the local economy and buy something. I like to make my own snack mix, put it in a tubberware and leave it in my desk for emergencies. Making your own is better than buying already mixed trail mix because you can count exactly how many calories you're putting in and you're not stuck with any of the gross parts. My current favorite is to mix almonds, honeynut Cheerios, pretzel Goldfish, and chocolate chips for the perfect salty sweet combination. 

3. Have a backup / emergency meal option - Days that were long at work when I have no leftovers at home are the days I'm most likely to cheat. After getting my butt kicked for 8 hours the McDonald's drive thru (literally the only drive thru in Vail) starts looking like the best idea. I've found if I have something easy to throw together already at home it's much easier to avoid this major healthy eating detour. Some of my favorites are cereal and milk with fresh fruit, packets of tuna, or everyone's favorite Lean Cuisines. These easy weeknight meals have also been a life saver many a time. 

4. Be honest about what you're craving - I've shared this tip before, but it's so good I want to share it again. When I crave Mexican food what I really want is the tacos or the burritos not so much the rice and beans on the side. If they're on my plate I'm going to eat them, but if they're not I'm not going to miss them. There are so many times to use this trick to cut calories while still getting what you're actually craving. Think fast-food without the fries or leaving the whip cream off your Starbucks order.

What are your tips for guilt free cheat days.

Monday, October 23, 2017

3 tips to getting over a breakup

Breakups are never easy. Even when a relationship ends with no hard feelings or ill wishes towards the other person it's normal to morn the end of a relationship. When the person that's been your best friend suddenly is someone that you can't text anymore life is rough. Simply put breakups suck, but maybe they don't have to suck so badly. Today I wanted to share my 3 tips to getting over a breakup.

1. have a pity party - Breakups are sad and you deserve your time to morn. I once read somewhere that you should take a day for every month you were together and I think that's fair. Maybe you need to take a bubble bath with wine and listen to depressing music (I actually have a love sucks playlist on Spotify for these times) or maybe you're more into watching sappy movies and crying about how that'll never happen for you. You should also indulge in as much junk food as you want because all that crying has to burn some calories, right?

2. deep clean - You don't need to go all Taylor Swift Picture to Burn, but you should probably box together all the things that remind you of your ex. If you think you'll truly never use them again, list them on Poshmark, but it you think they're things you'll enjoy again just put that box in the back of your closet until you're ready. I also think it's helpful to do a general cleaning of everything, almost like a spring cleaning of your life.

3. think about all the things you couldn't do before that now you can - Did your ex hate that Thai restaurant you love or that classic country station that's your secret guilty pleasure? Well now you can enjoy all those things without feeling guilty. You can enjoy more girls nights and more nights where cooking dinner is really just a bag of popcorn and bottle of wine in front of the tv.

The most important tip is to just take it a day at a time and remember there was life before your ex and there will be life after too. What are your tips to getting over a breakup?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Recent Netflix Picks

I took an extra half day off work this week. I had an off-site training and just didn't want to drive back the opposite way to go into the office. This meant that not only could I wear comfy jeans and a flannel but that I also was able to take the rest of the day lazily watching Netflix. I'm always interested in what everyone else is watching on Netflix, so today I'd thought I'd share my recent Netflix picks, both good and bad.

1. The Queen - Have you ever watched a movie and as you're watching it don't think you're enjoying it that much, but once it's over you discover you really enjoyed it? Because that's exactly how I felt about this one. It's explained as being about how the Queen deals with the death of Princess Diana, but it's really about how the Queen and Tony Blair deal with each other after the death of Princess Diana. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars

2. Beauty and the Beast - After watching Moana every single night for two months while I went to sleep I've decided to switch it up and watch another Disney princess. I didn't want to like this one when I first saw it in theaters, but the more I watch it the more I love it. Is it better than the animated classic? I think it just might be. I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars

3. Easy Virtue - The description for this one is correct, yet it wasn't anything like what I was expecting. Jessica Biel is an American who's just married an Englishman and trying to fit into his family who includes Colin Firth. If you're a Colin Firth fan, and let's be real who isn't, I'd suggest this one. The period outfits are fun too. I'd give this 3 out of 5 stars

4. Cable Girls- The plot of this one sounds so good but it just didn't deliver for me. It centers around 4 women working as cable operations in 1920s Spain. I struggled to make it through the entire season, but ultimately finished so it would get off my "continue watching" tab. I think the fact that it's dubbed into English and the mouths don't exactly match up also threw me off. I'd give it 1 out of 5 stars.

5. The Giver - I've never read The Giver, because of that I honestly had no idea what to expect, but it wasn't this. I usually really like this type of dystopia story, but I just couldn't really get into this one. I fell asleep halfway into it the first time I tried watching, so I think I need to watch it again. I'd give it 2.5 out of 5 stars

6. Adventures in Babysitting - This one had been in my list to watch for so long it had gotten to the point where I needed to either watch it or remove it. And y'all I'm so glad I watched it! This was easily my favorite on this list. Some parts were pretty predictable but it was still funny. I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars

7. Desk Set - Anything with Katharine Hepburn in it is bound to be good. She is a reference librarian who's job is in jeopardy when Spencer Tracy tries to modernize the department with a computer. I thought it was really interesting that even in the 1950s the idea of machines taking jobs of humans was a thing. I'd give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I'm also working my way through the West Wing, and I'm so obsessed I honestly have no idea why I waited so long to watch it. What have you watched on Netflix lately?

See my other Netflix suggestions here and here

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Five Stages of Grief as Told by Taylor Swift Songs

I always say there's a Taylor Swift song for everything. Regardless of how you feel about her as a person, you have to admit the girl is talented. I am a huge Taylor fan (don't believe me? Just type taylor swift in that search box on the left and look at all the results pop up) so no matter what emotions I'm feeling you can bet I know a Taylor song to play on repeat to get me through it. I recently went down rabbit hole of Taylor Swift videos on Youtube so I thought I'd put my knowledge to use and share the five stages of grief as told my Taylor Swift songs.

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Bargaining

4. Depression -  (if you can watch this without tearing up you have emotions of steal)

5. Acceptance

All Taylor Swift songs are so emotional there were a few I was torn between for each stage. Do you agree with my picks? Which would you have switched?

Monday, October 9, 2017

five easy weeknight recipes

One of my 2018 goals was to start cooking at home more and overall I've been pretty successful. I've always enjoyed cooking but cooking for one is a little intimidating and seems like so much more effort than just throwing a Lean Cuisine in the microwave. While that initial cooking is obviously more work it's always worth it plus you end up with leftovers for the rest of the week! Today I wanted to share five easy weeknight recipes. These are some of my favorites that I keep going back to, perfecting my recipe.

1. Stuffed Bell Peppers - My current favorite meal to make. I cheat and always make these after I've made ground beef tacos because it is the perfect way to use the leftover meat and Mexican rice. There are tons of great recipes for these all over Pinterest so you can experiment until you find your favorite. I bake mine empty for about 25 minutes at 400 than fill with leftover taco meat, mexican rice, salsa, and cheese and pop back in the oven for about another 15-20 minutes.

2. Cowboy Casserole - This is one of my favorite meals because it's so simple yet so filling, plus it freezes well for leftovers down the road. It's one of those meals that you can serve by it's self for an entire meal or with a side salad or cup of soup if you're trying to be fancy.

3. Foil Sausage Packets - The easiest clean up that exists in cooking. Just combine chopped veggies and smoked sausage with some seasoning and EVOO in little tin foil packets throw in the oven on 400 for about 40 minutes (depends on veggies / chopping size). I really like sweet potatoes, bell pepper, and zucchini with garlic salt and red pepper flakes.

4. Stuffed Mushroom Caps - One of my favorite dishes to prepare when I'm trying to add more veggies to my diet and cut the carbs. This version is stuffed with spinach, bacon, and cheese, but you could do so many variations. Recently I've been opting for the mini caps instead of the giant ones because eating three little caps is more fun than just one big one.

5. Crockpot Pork Chops - This is one of my favorite crockpot meals because you can easily switch up the sides depending on what's on sale at the grocery store. Not ideal for a day you have to work because they only take about 6 hours to cook, but oh so perfect on a day when you're bogged down with little errands and house chores.

What are some of your favorite easy weeknight recipes?

Friday, October 6, 2017

October Goals

Can you believe it's already October? We've already gotten our first snow fall of the season here in Vail and full blown winter is just around the corner. Today I'm going to share my October goals, but first I wanted to talk about my September goals. I'd say I was successful about 50% of the way with each one, except for eating healthy. I did a really good job at this one because I had a vacation planned at the end of the month. Just by watching what I was eating and incorporating more salads and less sweets and alcohol I lost 9 pounds last month! So hopefully that willpower will transfer to my October goals!

1. Continue to eat healthy - I did so well last month I'm hoping to do just as well in October and lose another 9 pounds. Now this is going to be hard because October is the start of pumpkin everything season, and I love pumpkin. But I'm going to continue to eat more broccoli and less ice cream and hopefully all the pumpkin yumminess I enjoy won't do as much damage.

2. Read a book - I read about 3/4 of my book last month, but didn't love it. Honestly if it hadn't been my goal I wouldn't have read that much. This month I'm go to reread a favorite which I think might be what I need to jump start my reading habit again.

3. Grow my Instagram - I've been hovering just under 700 followers for so long it's not even funny. I'll go up to 700 and then drop back down 666 (I wish this were a joke) and then go back up and back down. It's been a never-ending cycle and I'm ready for it to end. To make it to 700 and stay there is my goals for October. I'm really going to focus on posting quality content and engaging with other users to grow. Plus I bought this book which will hopefully make me Instagram famous.

4. Declutter - I never did a good spring cleaning of my closet so October seems like the perfect time to do one before winter really sets in. Now that I don't have to wear a uniform to work I need to take a good look at my closet and make sure I have things to wear when it's below freezing. One way I'm doing this is through Poshmark. I've been going through my closet and listing things I no longer wear and making a little cash! Go share my closet (user name hill_goodfellow) and help me declutter!

And those are my goals for October. Hopefully with just four goals it'll be easier to make them happen. What are your goals this month?

Monday, September 25, 2017

fall playlist

As I've been getting back into the habit of blogging more often I've started to get back into the habit of making playlists. Today I'm heading to Vegas so I didn't have a ton of time to get a post written so I thought it was the perfect opportunity to share my fall playlist with you!

And can I just say thank goodness Taylor Swift music is back on Spotify!

What's on your fall playlist?

Friday, September 22, 2017

five things you may not know about me

I feel like being an over sharer today, so I'm going to talk about the one subject upon which I'm an expert, myself. Remember way back in the beginning of blogging when we had Friday Introductions and Friday Five posts? Today I'm throwing it back and doing a Friday Five, Friday Introduction post!

1. I would love to one day write a children's book. Reading was such a huge part of my life growing up and is still one of my favorite pastimes. I attribute this to my mom being a kindergarten teacher and reading to us constantly. It would be the ultimate accomplishment to write the next Amelia Bedelia or Junie B. Jones.

2. I've never broken a bone, but I have dislocated my knee cap. I did it in 5th grade playing soccer and had to sit out the entire season. I refer to it as my career ending injury so people think I was better than I actually was. I've also twisted my ankle a few times, including the time in middle school when I tripped over my backpack.

3. Washington DC is my favorite city and I've always been interested in politics. I interned on Capitol Hill one summer and also had the chance to lobby as part of a PAC in college. For a long time I thought I wanted to work in political communications and being the White House Press Secretary was my dream job. Those are obviously no longer my dreams, but I do think I'll always have an interest in politics.

4. I started college as an elementary education major and really thought I wanted to teach kindergarten. I made the change two days before I was supposed to register for sophomore year classes. Thanks to spending that summer on campus working as a camp counselor and taking classes I was still able to graduate on time. Why journalism? It was my pick because the building was centrally located on campus and full of brand new computer labs.

5. I hate olives. Just the thought of eating one makes me gag. When I was little I ate 3 pieces of Popeyes spicy fried chicken followed by one black olive and threw up. Still to this day I'm convinced it was from the olive and not the overload of chicken.

I'd love to hear a random fact about you!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Cowboy Casserole

This casserole is one of my favorite fall meals. It's really easy, but comforting and hearty. With the temperatures dropping I'm starting to crave hot comforting hearty meals. A salad just isn't something I crave in September haha. This cowboy casserole is perfect for a chilly fall night.

Cook ground beef like you would for tacos. I just add a little taco seasoning and salsa. Drain and fill the bottom of a greased baking pan. Add a handful of grated cheddar or taco mix cheese.

Mix a box of cornbread exactly as it instructs on the box. Spread on top of the beef mixture.

Generously top with more cheese. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes

This serves well with a black bean and corn salad or a bowl of tortilla soup.

What's one of your favorite fall meals?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3 alternative ways to donate after a natural disaster

Following Hurricane Harvey I shared my personal hurricane story. I thought that would be the last time I'd have to think about this type of natural disaster until next year. The fact that there would be two major storms in a year just wasn't even a thought in my mind. Maybe that's why even all the way here in my tiny mountain town across the country Irma is giving me anxiety.

Florida is a special place for my family. My great grandparents owned a Key and my dad spent his summers growing up down there. The Florida Keys are truly my dad's happy place. We spent the Christmas after Katrina down there in an effort to forget that our new home was a tiny apartment in north Alabama. That vacation was the first time I was able to almost forget how non-normal my life had become. I also have family still in the Keys. Thankfully most of them were able to evacuate safely and are staying with my parents in Mississippi. But I do still have some relatives acting as first responders down there. Please keep them in your prayers.

With big disasters there is always push to donate to big national organizations, but they often aren't the most helpful. Yes it's easy to text a number and donate $10, but out of that $10 you donate probably only $2 is actually going to people in need. Here are 3 alternative ways to donate after a natural disaster.

1. Organizations you have a connection to - Look toward your alma mater donating to alumni chapters in the destroyed areas or scholarship funds that benefit students from affected areas. Large national organizations may be doing the same thing for local chapters. My sorority has a fund specifically for sisters going through extreme distress due to natural disasters.

2. Local organizations - Look for organizations based in the devastated areas. Not only are you guaranteed your donation is going to the people in need, but these organizations often fill unique needs. Think diaper banks, schools, churches, etc.

3. Ask locals - If you know people in the areas ask them what they need. This is especially true for people who evacuated and aren't able to return. After Katrina friends of family furnished our apartment in Birmingham and provided school supplies, things we desperately needed in order to try and move onto a normal life again. If you have friends who didn't need to evacuate or were able to return, ask them where you should donate. They are the ones actually there seeing who is helping and how much.

What other ways have you heard of to help after a natural disaster?

Friday, September 8, 2017

My thoughts on the newest Bachelor

The news dropped yesterday that ABC was finally ready to announce the next bachelor. While I personally was hoping for Eric from this last season I kinda had a feeling that wasn't going to happen. I don't think ABC was ready to have back to back minority stars, but that's a discussion I'm not trying to start here. The rest of the world wanted Peter or Dean, but I never saw the appeal in either of them.

I'm actually thrilled in their picking Arie. For the first time in a long time I'm actually looking forward to this season and here's why

1. Emily not giving the final rose to Arie is still the biggest surprise in Bachelor history. Like I'm still surprised it happened. For those of you who don't remember Emily was all about Arie, like all about him. She was already talking about home towns on like week 3. But in the most dramatic moment in Bachelor history Emily sent Arie home and gave the final rose to Jef with one F. I don't know who was the bachelor the next season, but it should have been Arie. (edited to say I just looked it up and it was Sean Lowe, so now I understand why they didn't pick him the first go round)

2. Arie is 35 which is an appropriate age to use alternative means of finding love. I feel like so many contestants are so young, way too young to go on a reality show to find love. When you're 22 and on the Bachelor you're not there to find love, you're there to become famous. An older Bachelor gives me hope for older contestants all around and more looking for real love.

3. Emily Maynard's season was the first whole season of the Bachelor franchise I watched. My younger sister and I watched together every week; it was our thing. So I guess you could say having Arie as the newest Bachelor makes me nostalgic.

What are your thoughts on the newest Bachelor?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

September Goals

It's been a long time since I've done one of these posts, but I'm feeling inspired to make September great. Can you believe 2017 is almost over!? Seriously where has the year gone? I was looking back at my goals for this year and realized I've accomplished almost none of them. I don't want to say that's because I haven't been doing these monthly goals list, but I certainly think it's contributed to the problem.

1. Blog Consistently - Honestly I've been a terrible blogger the first half of this year, hopefully I can turn that around in the last bit of the year. I'm trying to be better about writing ideas for posts down so that when I have time to write I have a list of topics to pick from.

2. Eat Healthy - My roommate is doing weight watchers and has had great success with it and it's inspiring me to eat healthy. I'm not thinking of it as a diet, more being conscious of what I'm putting in my body. We've gotten rid of almost all the junk food in the house and replaced it with fresh fruits and veggies and healthy snacks. My current go to meal is a spinach salad with strawberries, sunflower seeds, boiled egg, and bacon with a oil and vinegar dressing.

3. Read a Book - It's been way too long since I've finished a book. I keep borrowing from the library and then lose interest in it before I can finish. But this month I'm determined to finish one. I picked up a new one from the new and recommended section of my library and I'm hoping this will be the one to get me out of my reading funk.

4. Get Enough Sleep - This is the first time in my life I've had a mostly 9-5 job and my body doesn't exactly know how to handle it. I was either use to being up super early so I'd fall asleep early or working till late and being able to sleep in with no alarm. I'm trying to be better about getting in bed and turning off the lights at a reasonable hour.

5. Don't Put Things Off - By things I mostly mean laundry. I've been absolutely horrible with laundry the past couple of months. I've been putting it off until its overflowing from the basket and I'm down to my last pair of clean underwear. I want to do it every week wether I feel I need to or not.

What are your goals this month?

Friday, September 1, 2017

What I'd do if I won the lottery

You're not allowed to sell lottery tickets in Mississippi so ever since I was young I've been fascinated by it. It was always big excitement when we'd visit my grandparents in New Orleans to get a scratch off ticket. We were little so $2 seemed like a fortune! I still like to try my luck and buy a scratch off ticket from the grocery store every now and then. I've never won but I'm hopeful.

I saw someone won $759 million in the Powerball last week. Whenever that happens I always think about what I'd do if I won that much money.

1. I would take it in a lump sum. I trust my ability to manage money more than the people at Powerball. I also wouldn't want a press conference announcing I'd won.
2. I'd pay off all my debt and my parents debt. My parents have always stressed the importance of living within your means so this wouldn't be much, but I think is the obvious first thing to do
3. I'd buy a house in Vail. I don't know that I'll always live in Vail but even if I move this would be a good investment. I'd love to buy a place like this one and put all those hours of watching HGTV to good use.
4. I'd hire a financial advisor and invest, invest, invest. I'll be the first to admit I didn't learn near enough in my semester economics class in high school. When I try to read articles about investing in stocks I feel like I'm reading Russian, so I know I'd need to hire someone to help.
5. I'd take a fun trip. Nothing too extravagant, because with that kind of money I'll be taking vacations for years. I think I'd go to Ireland because I always thought I'd go somewhere in Europe for my 25th birthday but I just didn't have the money or time. Which brings me to the 6th thing I'd do
6. I'd finish out the season and then quit my job. I am so lucky to truly be working my dream job, but I wouldn't want to work 40 hours a week and mine just isn't something that would work part time.
7. Because I wasn't working full time I'd need to find something to fill my time with. I'd want to go back to school to get my masters. I don't know exactly what I'd want to get it in or where, but I loved school and would jump at the chance to go back and continue learning.
8. After that I'd want to go back to working part time. Call it cheesy but there is just something so fulfilling about getting a pay check. I'm not saying I'd work forever, but the retired lifestyle seems like it'd be lonely at 26.

And that's about all I've figured out. I've always said it says a lot about a person by what they'd do with that much money. What would you do if you won that much money?
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

5 ways to stay motivated at work

I started my new job almost two months ago and I'm happy report that it is every bit of wonderful that I was hoping it would be! I love the girls on my team, having my own space, and working with such interesting and diverse clients. One thing that has been a major change for me is working on my own set of tasks that I'm solely responsible for completing. Having this sense of ownership is so fulfilling and honestly something I've been craving professionally. But getting all this done does require an amount of motivation I've never needed before. I've reached back into my college days and resurrected my 5 ways to stay motivated at work.
1. Make a to do list - I am a very visual person so seeing my tasks for the day is the only way I'm going to get anything done. I start each day by making my list of everything I want to accomplish; I even include meetings so I can get the satisfaction of marking them done.

2. Take a break - Even the most focused, motivated person needs a break every now and then. Maybe it's a 10 minute social media break (I don't have enough self control for this) or just going to refill your water bottle, but giving my mind a quick 10 minute break always helps me refocus on my tasks. When the weather is nice I like to take a quick walk around the building outside to get some fresh air; once the snow starts back I'm really going to miss this type of break!

3. Eat a snack - Y'all hanger is a serious curse in my life. Not only do I get unpleasant when I'm hungry, but I literally can't focus on anything else. I always keep a few snacks in my desk drawer for emergencies. And if things ever get really desperate Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is right outside my office, and their chocolate covered gummy bears cure all.

4. Change your surroundings - Most of us, myself included, don't have the luxury of multiple offices to work in when you hit a rut, but there are other ways to change things up. I like to move from my desk to the small conference table in my office when I feel like I need to stay motivated. I've also found it helpful to change up my Pandora station.

5. Eliminate Distractions - I very easily get distracted by my phone so I put it away in my bag while I'm working. I know myself well enough to know I just don't have the will power to not pick it up every time I see a notification. And Lord help me if I post to Instagram during lunch and then leave it on my desk as all the Likes come through; you can just kiss any chance of productivity goodbye for the rest of the day!

What are your tips to staying motivated at work?

Monday, August 28, 2017

you are not alone

My heart has absolutely been breaking for all those impacted by hurricane Harvey. There aren't accurate words to describe that level of destruction. A hurricane is so much more than just the loss of stuff. Stuff can be replaced. A hurricane takes your sense of security, happiness, normalcy, and self. These things can't just be bought at Target or Home Depot.

When I was 14 hurricane Katrina took all that away from me. 14 is already a difficult enough stage of life to be in, imagine doing it in those conditions. It's no exaggeration to say that was the lowest point of my life. The only way you'll ever understand that level of sadness is if you've gone through something similar so I won't even try to explain it. I will say it took 4 years for me to feel whole again. I'm still not totally over it; truth be told I don't think there is a way to ever be totally over destruction like that. I am a survivor, but it took a long time for me to feel that way.

To every person feeling the destruction of Harvey I want to say you are not alone. It's okay to cry and throw the biggest pity party of your life. It's okay to not feel okay. It's okay to feel utterly hopeless and helpless. Know it does get better. You will be more than okay, one day you'll be happy again. You are a survivor and one day you'll feel like one.

So this year instead of shopping the Lilly Pulitzer Sale I'm going to donate that money to those in need. I don't need a brightly printed shift dress, but those people need help and hope.

Friday, August 18, 2017

An open letter to the girl who didn't get in her first choice sorority

I started this post two years ago, but just never hit publish. With recruitment season being in full swing I thought now was a great time to finally share. Image result for hey girl

Hey Girl,

So Bid Day came and went and it wasn't like you imagined. You had pictured yourself opening that envelope and seeing a different president's signature, a different crest, a different set of letters.

Guess what, you aren't alone. There is some girl in the "top" house on your campus a little bit upset because she didn't get the house she had really wanted. Maybe she's a freshmen or maybe she's a senior who's just realized her experience hasn't been what she always dreamed it would be. I was you.  I didn't get my first choice house and you know what, I had a much better sorority experience than any of my friends in my first choice house. When I look back on it now I honestly can't imagine being in any other house than my own. I know it's corny to say trust the system because it works, but it honestly works.

The set of letters you'll wear on your tshirts for the next four years don't define you; what you do in those letters define you. So finish your pity party and realize you're in for the best four years of your life. There's a reason they're called your sorority sisters. These women will become your family, your home away from home, your study buddies, your shotgun riders for late night taco bell. They'll be there when Justin cheats on you with that horrible girl from his biology lab, and they'll be there with the biggest smiles and loudest squeals of delight when Ryan asks you to be his wife.

So open you heart, open your mind, and get ready for the best adventure of your life. And when all else fails go look at your wiki page and find the list of all your famous sisters or scroll your national's Instagram feed.

Friday, July 21, 2017


Currently I'm

Loving ..... the summer! Summer has always been my favorite season but it truly is something special here in the mountains.

Wishing ..... there were more hours in the day. I'm loving my new job but y'all there is so much to learn and just not enough time to learn it

Drinking ..... Lime LaCroix. I was a hard core grapefruit or nothing fan for a long time but right now I'm all about the lime

Watching ..... I shared my Netflix list the other day, but on actual tv I'm loving the Bold Type on Freeform and I'm not ashamed to say I'm highly anticipating Descendants 2 Disney Channel

Listening to ..... Moon Taxi. When I didn't renew the XM radio in my car I was stuck with the two channels I can pick up. One of those channels is exclusively in Spanish. So needless to say I've been listening to the only CD I have in my car which happens to be Moon Taxi.

What are you up to currently?

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

3 things to remember in a long distance relationship

I don't talk about my personal life a lot on here, but today I'm going to make an exception to talk about my boyfriend. He works for another part of the same resort I work for, but he's based in an office about 45 minutes away from me. Far enough that we don't see each other everyday, but still close enough for a couple date nights a week. While it's not an ideal arrangement I've learned to really make the best of the distance. In five years I think I'll really appreciate the fact that I had a successful long distance relationship because I think it's so important to still grow and develop as individuals. Here are my three things to remember in a long distance relationship.

1. Really enjoy the time you spend together - One thing that's great about not being able to see each other daily is that we still plan fun dates. Last weekend we went to the farmers market in town and spent the afternoon wandering around looking at the different booths. Even when we're doing normal things like cooking a meal or just running errands it's more special because it's something we don't get to do every day.

2. Understand each other have a life outside of your relationship - When you don't see each other everyday it's normal to want to stay looped into what they're doing, but it's important to remember to give each other space. We each have our own jobs and friends in our towns and sometimes these things take time away from our being together. Having these outside lives is healthy.

3. Trust each other - Trust is essential in every relationship, but even more so in a long distance relationship. Lack of trust causes suspicion and resentment which is never good in any type of relationship. If you don't have trust it's just going to lead to a whole laundry list of other problems down the road.

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship? How'd you make it work?

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Monday, July 17, 2017

What you should be watching on Netflix

I've been trying to clear out my Netflix list for a while now. Just as I think I've made significant progress it's a new month and a whole slew of new titles are added that I just have to see. I had a long weekend off before starting my new job and did some damage so I thought I'd share my favorites with you today.

1. Girlboss - I was so stoked to see this Netflix original because I was a big fan of the book. If you're looking for a fun light hearted series I highly recommend it.

2. The Woman in Gold - The best movie I've seen on Netflix recently. It's the true story of a Jewish woman who is fighting for the return on family painting stolen by the Nazis. It's very moving and really makes you think.

3. Madam Secretary - I am obsessed with this show. My love of politics is well documented so this show is really a no brainer. What I really enjoy is that it's realistic without being too realistic.

4. Moana - Confession I watch this movie almost every night before bed. I'm slightly obsessed with the crab, Tamatoa. And how cool is it that the same guy who did Hamilton did this!?

Next up on my list is the Hart of Dixie. What are you watching on Netflix?

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Out West Wednesday : Two Weeks Notice

A couple weeks ago, two to be exact, I put in my notice at my current job. The job I had worked my butt off to get promoted into with the same hotel I've been working at since moving out here. Making that decision was honestly one of the most difficult I've ever made. You see I learned that when you have a job you genuinely enjoy with people who make work fun it's hard to leave. I never thought I'd enjoy working at a hotel front desk, but I took the time and effort to learn the role, become good at it, and it was honestly very fulfilling. But all good things must come to an end.

Starting Monday I will be starting my dream job. Not my ultimate dream job, but my dream goal job when I made the decision to move to Vail. When I decided to pick up my life and move across the country it wasn't because I had this deep desire to work at a hotel front desk. Taking that front desk job was a step back that I needed to take to fill in the missing pieces in my experience. It gave me the luxury hospitality experience I knew I'd need in the future. I made that decision to move in hopes of ultimately getting an events job in a luxury hotel. And y'all I did it!

Come Monday morning I'll begin working as an events coordinator at our sister hotel here in Vail. I am so excited for this transition and the fact that the plan I put together way back in the fall of 2015 is finally coming together. Hard work pays off but sometimes you have to take a step back to make all the pieces fall together. So if anyone is looking to get married or hold a corporate event in Vail let me know, I'd be thrilled to work with you to make your event happen.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Everything we did in Disneyland

Last month I made my first trip to the West Coast. You can read about our first stop in San Diego in this post. Today I'm going to talk about the second part of our vacation, Disneyland! This was my first time to visit Disneyland and first time at any Disney park since I was 12. Maybe I just didn't notice it but when I was younger I never realized adults would do Disney without children. But I'm here to tell you Disney in your mid 20s childless is the best time to go. I kept seeing these parents carrying their children and thinking I'm so glad I don't have another human attached to me right now, and don't even get me started on the stroller corrals.

Today I'm sharing all the attractions we enjoyed and a brief description of them. Obviously everyone has their own taste and likes and dislikes so remember this is just my opinion.

1. Toy Story Midway Mania - I'm very competitive and like to make bets for things like loser buys first snack, so I really enjoyed this ride. For the record I had to buy first snack

2. Soaring - Top 5 Rides - This one is so well done and I really appreciated that I felt like I was soaring and not being jerked around

3. Star Tours - Bottom 3 Rides - Hands down my least favorite part of the day. I'm not a huge Star Wars fan plus this one jerks around so much I felt a little sick afterwards.

4. Lugi's Rollickn Roadsters - Fun enough but I not worth it if the line is 20 minutes or longer

5. Monster's Inc.- I'm a big Monster's Inc fan so this ride is on my would ride again list for sure

6. The Little Mermaid - My favorite part is hands down the music because let's be real The Little Mermaid has some of the best songs

7. Peter Pan - Bottom 3 Rides - I feel like I'm going to catch some flack for this one, but it's honestly not worth the hype. We ended up waiting in line two different times before it broke down (twice) and then we eventually were able to ride. All that said, if you've never ridden it's worth a ride.

8. Radator Springs Racers - Fun enough, but unless you have a FastPass not worth the extra long waits

9. Haunted Mansion - a true classic not to be skipped

10. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - This is probably my least favorite of the mountain rides so if you have to skip one it'd be this

11. HyperSpace Mountain - Top 5 Rides - We went when they still had the StarWars overlay which was fun. I was actually surprised how much I loved this one. I also really liked that you get to sit next to someone whereas in DisneyWorld you're just single file.

12. Splash Mountain - A classic that shouldn't be missed! I sat front row and honestly didn't get that soaked, but saw many others getting off that looked like they'd gone swimming. Also I think it's so funny that this is such an iconic Disney ride yet very few know the backstory of Song of the South

13. Grizzly River Run - I think this one is seriously underrated, just be prepared to get wet!

14. Snow White - This is one of the classic slow dark rides in Fantasyland right behind the Castle. If you aren't a huge Snow White fan (full disclosure she's my favorite) you can probably skip this one

15. Mr. Toad - Top 5 Rides - This is my childhood favorite and honestly 90% of the reason I wanted to visit Disneyland. When they removed it at Disney World I wrote a letter expressing my displeasure

16. Alice in Wonderland (not the teacups) - This is one of the rides that is unique to Disneyland. It's fun and silly with lots of bright colors

17. Pirates of the Caribbean - Did you even go to Disney if you don't ride Pirates? Beware the drop is bigger than the one in Disney World and you will feel like you're sitting in water for the whole ride

18. Jungle Cruise - If you're not into dad jokes this is one to skip; however, I am a big fan of dad jokes and love this ride

19. It's a Small World - Need a break from the heat? This is the ride for you, just make sure you're not in hurry because it is a slow ride. Be sure to be on the lookout for all the updated Disney characters!

20. Enchanted Tiki Room - Top 5 Rides - This is another childhood favorite of mine. Bonus points for being able to eat your Dole Whip inside!

21. Buzz Lightyear - Bottom 3 Rides This is another ride that honestly I could have skipped. It's the same concept as the Toy Story Midway Mania in California Adventure, except less fun and more difficult

22. Matterhorn Bobsleds - Top 5 Rides - The mountain ride unique to Disneyland. We went right at closing so the nighttime views of the park were really fun and made the experience.

All in all I think 22 rides is pretty impressive, considering we hit all the major ones we wanted to. Indiana Jones (closed for refurbishment), Tea Cups (mainly because they're iconic), and Nemo (honestly forgot it was even a thing) were the only rides I was really interested in that we didn't do. We also caught the beginning of the Main Street Electrical Parade, one of my favorite attractions from when I was younger; if you've never seen it or haven't since you were a kid I highly suggest going in the next two months so you can watch one more time before it retires forever.

What's your favorite Disneyland attraction?

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Friday, June 2, 2017

First Timer's Guide to San Diego

Today I'm sharing the first of my California vacation travel posts. This was my first time to the West Coast and originally I thought I'd call it a success so long as there were no earthquakes during our visit. I'm happy to report there were no earthquakes but the trip was a success for more than just that reason. Our first stop was San Diego and that's what I'm going to break down today!

We flew into San Diego International Airport which was really cool because it's right in the middle of the city. As you're flying in you're low enough to see the palm trees and traditional Spanish style architecture. As soon as we were out the airport the smell of salt water immediately did this coastal girl's heart good.

We stayed in the Gaslamp District at the historic St. James Hotel. It's now owned by Wyndham but has a charming boutique feel. There was no pool but they did have a cool rooftop patio with great views of the city that totally made up for it. My favorite part was the old fashioned elevator complete with the double doors you had to open yourself. My other favorite part was the location. We were a short walk to Petco Park, which was our first event of the trip.

The original reason we decided to visit San Diego was to go to a baseball game. Since the Rangers played really early in Denver this year and we missed the game we thought it'd be fun to go see them play somewhere else. Before the game we stopped at a local spot next to the stadium and grabbed a couple beers before heading into the game. A friend from work has season tickets that we used and had fun seats for the game. The seats were about the only fun part of the game as the Rangers took a serious beat down that night. Ironically the next day they gave a beat down of their own but we had decided not to go to back to back games.

The next day we slept in after a late night of drinking. In much need of something to cure our hangovers we decided to head to a local burger spot, Hodad's, that my friend had recommended. These burgers did not disappoint! One way I judge restaurants is by the people eating inside, this downtown location had a mix of business professionals on their lunch breaks and tourists like us; a sure fire sign you're in for a good meal For those wondering, I looked it up and a hodad is someone who spends time at the beach and thinks he knows how to surf but really doesn't.

Our next stop was the famous San Diego Zoo, just a quick Uber ride away. We had picked up a discount coupon from our hotel which I highly recommend because this is not a cheap ticket. The zoo really is spectacular with enough animals that everyone is bound to find their favorite. Included in your ticket is a bus tour and gondola that takes you from the front to the back of the zoo and drops you off right at my favorite animal, the polar bears! Fun fact the San Diego Zoo is one of only four places to see Giant Pandas in the USA! Double fun fact - I've seen them in three of those spots!

before I got sick on the boat - hint take the seasick medication even if you never get seasick 

The next day we started the morning with a whale watching tour. Sadly we did not spot any whales, only common dolphins and an ocean sun fish, oh whale. I found a two for one groupon for San Diego Whale Watch and would highly recommend them to anyone. We went kinda in between migration periods so our chance of spotting a whale was low, but I'm confident had there been any in the area we would have found them. The majority of the people on our tour were actually a whale watching club, so I felt confident that we chose the best company to ride.

That afternoon we decided to tour the Midway. This is something I never would have thought to do, as I've been on battle ship tours before, but it was so fun. It's a self guided tour with audio that gives you little details; I think there were something like 100 stops you could listen to. It covered in detail the different living areas including the dining rooms for the different levels of sailors aboard. On the flight deck they have all types of different planes and helicopters to view too. If you have any interest in the military this is a can't miss attraction, just be prepared to walk up and down lots of narrow steep stairs.

After returning to our hotel to change and relax a little we picked up our rental car and drove across the bridge to Coronado. Driving was really fun because we kept seeing signs telling us how far we were from the border, hint it's not far at all! Coronado is the perfect little vacation beach town; I wish we'd had more time to explore it. We briefly walked through Hotel Del Coronado which was lovely and reminded me of a Disney World Resort. They were hosting a reception for the California GOP that I wanted to crash but didn't because it was late.

I've saved the best part for last. If you pay no attention to anything else in this post remember this, my favorite meal of the trip. We had dinner at Brigantine Seafood in Coronado and I'm not kidding when I say I'm literally still dreaming of that meal. I grew up on the water and am picky about my seafood but that may have been the best I've ever had. I ordered a seasonal grilled tuna dish that have cauliflower puree and shaved brussels sprouts. We also went on half price bottle of wine night which only enhanced our experience!

The next morning we woke up before the sun to get in our rental and drive north! Be sure to check back next week to read the second part of my California vacation!

Have you ever been to San Diego? What was your favorite part?

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