Arizona trip recap

grand canyon at sunset

Finallyyy!!!

I have been wanting to get this post up for a couple of weeks now, but I needed the time to give it justice. I just saw my mom this past weekend, and we were still talking about how great our trip was. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to some amazing places in my life, but Arizona has easily made its way to my top five! The weather was amazing and the scenery was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before! Mom and I stayed in wonderful places, met some cool people, ate great food, hiked a ton, and got to relax and pamper ourselves, too. It was the perfect mix and I still can’t believe I got to see the Grand Canyon!

I spent a ton of time researching what to do, where to hike, where to eat, etc. in Arizona and how to make the most out of just a few days there since I’d be missing school (and because $$$). It’s tricky to get to Sedona because you have to fly in through Phoenix and rent a car – it’s about a 2 hour drive. So over the summer, I had planned everything out and we got it all booked. Here’s a breakdown of our amazing trip! Get ready to tuck in for a long post and lots of pictures!

Day 1

After school, I met mom at my apartment and we headed to the airport. We were able to get a non-stop flight (it’s about 4.5 hours). We landed in Phoenix and got our rental car; we were both starving and I had been dreaming of an In-N-Out burger for weeks, so that was our first stop and Mom’s first experience with In-N-Out! I don’t know if we were that hungry or if it’s just because it’s that good, but I felt like it was the best burger I’ve ever eaten (of course we got everything animal style with 1,000 island dressing, grilled onions, and melted cheese!).  If you ever make it to the west coast, you HAVE to make this a priority.

We drove for what seemed like 18 hours (really about two and a half) and finally made it to our perfect little Airbnb, which was a guest house with a rooftop terrace overlooking Thunder Mountain! It was the perfect location and our host had thought of every little detail. We were so tired from traveling so we just went straight to bed!

Day 2

On our second day, we woke up early so we could have coffee on the terrace and watch the sun come up over Thunder Mountain. It was so beautiful! Afterwards, we got ready and headed out to our Pink Jeep tour! We chose the Red Rock Tour and had such an amazing tour guide. We got to stop off at a few places for pictures, and the tour lasted about two hours.

After our jeep tour, we spent a few hours hanging around in town in Sedona. We had lunch at Wildflower Bread Company, which has a patio with a great view of Snoopy Rock! We walked up and down Main Street and went into some shops to look for souvenirs.

Afterwards, we walked back to our car and drove to Cathedral rock. It was a really great hike and makes its way all the way down to Oak Creek if you take a side trail. We didn’t make it all the way down because it was getting late in the day and we had other items on our agenda! We drove to the Chapel of the Holy Cross and it was such an amazing and beautiful sight.

Finally, we rounded out our day by doing a quick hike of Sugarloaf Mountain at sunset. It was incredible to see all the rocks turning more and more red in the orange/red sunlight!

We showered and got ready for dinner! We ate at Elote, a place I had read rave reviews about. We had a delicious and fresh margarita on the patio while we waited, and they handed out little bowls of popcorn for people to munch on while they waited for a table! The food and atmosphere were both great.

We made it back home late, but took a few minutes to sit on the terrace and look at all the stars before bedtime! There is very little light pollution in Sedona, so the stars were incredible, even with a full moon!

Day 3

We woke up on our third day in Arizona and checked out of our Airbnb. We were so sad to have to check out because it was a perfect place to stay, but it was already booked for the following night! We ate breakfast at The Coffee Pot, a local favorite and a cool little diner with a gift shop attached (there is a rock formation called Coffee Pot behind the restaurant).

coffee at the coffee pot – see what i did there?!

We had a big day ahead of us with a lot of driving to do! At first, we had decided just to head to the Grand Canyon, but our Pink Jeep tour guide convinced us to drive to Page, AZ to see Horseshoe bend and Antelope Canyon. I am so glad we took his advice! It was a long day – four hours driving there and four hours back – but so worth it. We got to Page and stopped at Horseshoe Bend first. It’s where the Colorado River makes a horseshoe-shaped turn (hence the name!). Pictures of it are amazing, but I can’t explain how incredible and massive it was in real life. The colors are unreal. This was one of my favorite things about the entire trip.

We drove to Antelope Canyon which is supposed to be incredible, but there was such a wait to see it and we still needed to hit the Grand Canyon, so we had to pass on that. But we were so excited from Horseshoe Bend that it was okay! We had a little picnic in the car and headed back to stop along the way and see the Grand Canyon.

fancy whole foods rental car picnic

We had originally planned to do the South Rim entrance of the Canyon and do a couple of small trails I read about, but with our detour to Page, AZ we came in on the east entrance at Desert View. There weren’t any hiking trails, which was a little disappointing to me, but we did do a 25 mile scenic drive with overlooks along the way, and we got to see the Canyon as the sun was setting and with the huge orange harvest moon. Pictures do nothing to truly capture this; it was such an incredible sight! I can’t explain the feeling of being so small in such a vast world. It sounds nerdy, but it was just a really crazy feeling and experience.

After our big day to Horseshoe Bend and the Grand Canyon, we drove back to Sedona and checked in to our second hotel, Amara resort!  They had left some champagne and treats for my 30th birthday, which was a thoughtful touch! The hotel is gorgeous and tucked away off of the main street in downtown Sedona.

Day 4

This was our big spa day to pamper ourselves after all of our adventuring and hiking. Our poor feet definitely needed it! We had breakfast in the room from room service (Amara’s restaurant is SaltRock and it was all so delicious). Then, we walked to the spa to check in for our appointments! We both had relaxation massages and facials, which was so divine. The entire spa was so cute, relaxing, and the staff was very knowledgeable and friendly. We had hot tea and a sparkling pomegranate juice toast afterwards and hung out in the relaxation room for a while.

We spent the rest of our day by the infinity pool overlooking Snoopy rock formation, sipping margaritas (and water!!!), having lunch from the hotel, and reading/floating/lounging. It was the life! Then we went back to our hotel room, showered and got ready, and went down for the manager’s wine hour (Kimpton hotels do a complimentary wine hour every day from 5-6pm). We sat out on the hotel patio/lawn under the market lights and just chatted and enjoyed ourselves! We ended the night with a long, late dinner on the patio at the SaltRock kitchen restaurant with absolutely delectable food.

hotel pictures + pool overlooking snoopy rock formation

Day 5

Our last day in Sedona! I will forever miss this quiet little town. We woke up and had breakfast at the resort right next to ours. Their restaurant is called Cress at Oak Creek, and we sat at a table right by the water. It was honestly one of my favorite experiences of the trip! So beautiful, and different scenery than the red rocks and desert we had been seeing the entire trip. We had the best time at our breakfast, and the food was amazing, of course.

We checked out of our hotel and headed out for a last hike before driving back to Phoenix for the night. We hiked Baldwin trail to Templeton trail to Oak Creek! This is the creek we hadn’t made it to the day we did our Cathedral rock hike, so we were really glad to be able to feel like we completed that! It was a beautiful hike, perfect weather, and the creek was so peaceful. After our last hike, we ate at Open Range Grill and Tavern for a late lunch in downtown Sedona. We had a cactus cheese dip which was so delicious, and we each got a prickly pear margarita! The prickly pear cactus is everywhere in Sedona so we felt like we had to! They were just okay, haha – a little sweet for our liking.

After lunch, we drove back to Phoenix where we had to fly out from. We stayed at the Hotel Palomar (another Kimpton Hotel). They had another celebration package for me on our arrival – more champagne and a delicious peanut butter chocolate mousse cake! We packed up to be ready to leave the next day, ordered room service for dinner, showered, did face masks, and relaxed because we were so beat from our trip!

Sunday was basically just a travel day. We woke up, had coffee and breakfast, and drove to the airport to return our rental car and fly home! We had another non-stop flight, but this time we lost 3 hours going back home, so it was late by the time we got in and we had dinner with Andrew and then pretty much fell right to sleep! My only regret from the trip is that I didn’t follow my friend’s advice; she lived in AZ for a while and told me to hug a cactus for her – but that wouldn’t be safe, so I had to make a smart personal decision ?

flight home! (sorry guy)

Those are the most basic basics of our trip! I would love to make my way back to Arizona again, because there’s just so much to do there that 5 days barely even scratches the surface. But my mom and I packed in as much as we possibly could, and we had such a blast together. It was one of those “life”  moments that I’ve mentioned before where you just really feel alive and appreciate everything so much. I’m incredibly lucky that she gifted me with this trip for my 30th and couldn’t have asked for anything more!

Fashion that gives back

The Flourish Market

the flourish market website

I have a great find that I want to share! I received a gift card to The Flourish Market a LONG time ago from my friend Cassie, and just never used it or was able to check out the store until recently. One lazy day recently I made my way over to stop in and see what The Flourish Market is all about. My co-worker at school loves it as well, and I have heard only great things.

My favorite part about the store is that every single piece you buy, whether it’s a candle, necklace, clutch, or clothing item, gives back in some way to people who need it across the globe. You can read more about their mission and story here. The store is incredibly cute, and the owner has such a friendly and passionate vibe that you feel as soon as you walk in. She told me that they get new shipments in every week, so the inventory is always fresh!

Even though some of the items at The Flourish Market are beyond what I would normally pay for my clothes or accessories, I know that my purchases there go towards a fulfilling purpose. I was able to find a couple of pieces I loved, like this shirt with a faux front-tuck twist (so flattering and my new favorite wardrobe item!). I got it in the color Rosewood. I also got a gift for my friend Kelly’s birthday party (some earrings that were made by a girl who will be the first in her family to go to college!).

my top! jeans are from express (on sale!) & necklace is a gift from whitney

I highly, highly recommend checking out this store or at least doing some online shopping if you can’t make it in person. Their site is super easy to use. I was in no way asked to write anything about this store, but I just really loved my visit and the whole meaning behind it and thought it should be shared – that’s how we make small changes that create big impacts, right?! I will definitely be hitting this place up when I need new clothes or accessories, and especially for gifts that have a meaning behind them! There is also a $30 and under category. You can’t beat that!

Happy shopping!

Sur la table cooking class

It has been a few weeks now, but I wanted to finally post about my amazing birthday surprise from my sister! She put in so much work to plan a surprise cooking class for us at Sur la table at Southpoint Mall, and she secretly got two of my best friends in on it! It is one of my absolute favorite experiences, ever. I can’t describe the happiness and excitement I felt the entire evening. She put so much thought into every single detail, from balloons to decorations and champagne, to having my friends block off the night as well!

Emily had asked me to block off September 21st weeks earlier; I figured it was for a birthday surprise but had no idea what exactly it could be. I am a person who loves the idea of a surprise, but if I know one is coming, my mind goes crazy trying not to obsess over it, which makes me obsess over it even more! Am I alone in this?! So I was reallllly curious about what she had up her sleeve! I thought maybe a wine and design class, a concert, a festival or something…I never would have guessed a cooking class! We both love to cook, and I am such a fan of the gift of an experience you can share! It is so meaningful and something you can always keep as a special memory.

Emily drove us to Southpoint and tried to tell me my gift was dinner and shopping for a birthday outfit for that coming weekend celebrating with friends, and as bratty as it sounds my heart kind of sank – if you know me, trying on clothes is not necessarily my ideal time because I am so picky and hard on myself – but I tried to sound upbeat about the surprise. (Actually, no, I didn’t; I mean, I tried, but what came out was something like, “Oh, well…I mean, I’m not sure if I’m in that kind of a mood to try things on…and I told you I was planning on wearing Whitney’s floral dress…but we can see after dinner!” I felt like such a brat). Then we turned the corner, and there were Whitney and Kelly holding pink 3-0 balloons, wearing aprons, and yelling surprise! I was SO overwhelmed I just immediately started to cry (imagine that:  Me, crying). Like, couldn’t stop crying with joy pretty much the entire night! I just felt so special and loved, and it was one of those memories where you just remember feeling alive, like when you go to a great concert or a big life moment happens.

during the cooking class, chef-ing it up and having so much fun

We made the most delicious meal together, and our chef/instructor helped us through every step of the way. It was so much fun to see everything come together, and to have everything already pre-measured and planned out was an added bonus. Not to mention that all of the cooking equipment we were using was high quality and what kitchen dreams are made of! We sipped champagne while we cooked and I just felt like a lucky and happy gal the entire time. Our final meal was champagne butter shrimp, a surprise lobster tail that our chef made for us, zucchini fritters with a garlic-basil aioli, a red wine risotto, and a caramel pear torte cake – all from scratch! Our instructor also made me a surprise happy birthday plate with truffles for dessert.

the finished plate – amazingly delicious!

Like I said already, it was just one of the best nights, ever. When we were done, we all signed up for another cooking class during the holidays to spend some time together and re-create this fun evening! My sister gets maaaajor props for this gift, and I will always remember how special it was! Here’s how you can schedule your own cooking class. I would definitely recommend it for a gift, or as an experience to do together with a friend, group of girls, or even a double date!

with our instructor after our class!

Arizona!

For the next five days, mom and I are vacationing and adventuring in Arizona to celebrate my 30th! Can’t believe what an amazing trip I have been gifted.

I’ll do a recap post eventually – of course – but in the meantime, you can follow along with me @missjweaves on Instastories! I’ll be blowing it up.

view from our air bnb – thunder mountain 

Vacation mode:  On. Later! ✌?

FriYAY feels!

weekend vibes & my newest reading

Friyayyy! This week felt long. By Tuesday I was asking myself, is this week ever going to end?! But here we are, fam! We made it.

I have actually had a lot of really wonderful little things happen to me this week! Tuesday, I got to attend a Superintendent’s breakfast to celebrate our School-to-Career initiative. It was fancy and fun! They had two student speakers and they were both very impressive. It’s always so amazing to get to see what kids are doing in our schools and how our community provides incredible opportunities for them.

Wednesday, I won a $20 gift card to Paintbase Nail Bar! They were doing a giveaway on their Instagram account, so I entered on a whim – I never win things. And I won!!!  Then, in the same day, I had a surprise birthday gift come in from one of my sister’s best friends (and a long-time friend of mine, too!). It was such a nice surprise and she has snuck up on me like that before with little gifts in my email for teacher appreciation week or just because. It really made my whole day and was so above and beyond! Then, again in the same day, I had my Wednesday shift at the pub and it was a great night at work. I received a random amazing tip with the sweetest note thanking me for being a teacher. I love reminders that there are good human beings everywhere, and that there are quiet acts of kindness that happen every single day. It’s also nice to know that people do value education and don’t just think it’s “cute” that people teach the future of our country. So thank you, so very much, to the lovely couple at table 15 on the patio, wherever you are!

Thursday was a Teacher Work Day, and I always celebrate those! I got to get a lot of work done, planned lessons for the next little while, and graded some papers that were piling up! I also got to eat lunch with my main squeeze, which was really nice because I feel like I haven’t really seen him all week!

Thursday night, my sister surprised me with a girls night out cooking class at Sur la table! My best friends Whitney and Kelly were there holding a 30 balloon! I couldn’t believe it! More to come on that later 🙂 I was so overcome with good emotions and it was such a special time.

This weekend, I am celebrating turning the big 3-0! My birthday is on Monday, but I always love to stretch out celebrations. Then, in another week or two, I’m heading to Arizona with my mom for our big trip for my 30th!

I have so many things to be thankful for, and life is good! Sometimes we just need a little reminder or two of that. What is everyone else thankful for this week? I hope it has been a good one!

I’ll be back next week, cheeky as ever. 30 isn’t getting me down!

Oh! And it’s the first day of Fall?! My favorite time of year! HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!

 

Hustlin’

working at the mill, one of my new favorite places!

Yesterday was officially day one of teacher work days. A day full of meetings and emails with questions that I don’t know the answer to yet, and a classroom that still needs lots of unpacking, organizing, and decorating. I did get to borrow another teacher’s solar eclipse glasses and watch everything outside with Andrew and some other teacher friends, so that was an exciting part of the day!

I feel lucky in that I almost feel like I get two new starts to every year – school starts up in August, which comes with a whole set of “new,” and then again in January I get to experience the real new year with everyone else. It should really be no surprise to you by now that I have a lot of goals and love to run myself into the ground stay busy all the time 🙂 I mentioned that I am taking on some new roles at school this year, but in addition to that, my best friend is getting married in April, I’m staying on one night a week at the pub, I have the blog, and I’m making a promise to myself to commit to a very regular workout routine and really focus on my Weight Watchers tracking. I just need that physical exercise as an outlet for the stress in life! Plus, I’m going to be THIRTY in September and I need to feel thirty, flirty, & thriving!

Every new school year, I set new goals for myself, and this year isn’t any different. I feel like I have so many fun and important things that I want to focus on, and I love the challenge of working hard for something that I can be proud of. Another BIG goal I am setting for myself is to make some really serious financial changes. Pay off my car, some of my debt, save more each month, and track expenses more carefully. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t be something I needed to worry about, but the world isn’t perfect yet! Money is a huge source of stress for me because I don’t care much about it, but you need it, and life is expensive, but you can’t live lavishly if you don’t have a lot of money, and I don’t make a lot but I love what I do, but you have to live a little, and you want to do nice things for people, but you can’t if you don’t budget your money……see what I mean?! So I have to care about it! My new planner has a monthly bill and budget tracker at the end of each month, so I’m going to use it diligently and use my extra money from my weekly shift at the pub to help supplement my teacher salary.

Being an adult is hard, y’all. I know I’m not the first to say it, but MAN.

So anyway, I’ve got some big goals and dreams and things to work toward this year, on top of my regular job and my part-time job. I am so excited to kick off another school year and to get back in a regular groove! Cheers to the year, and to all of my fellow goal-setters and ass-kickers out there (sorry Mom!).

what i’m using to keep track of all my hustlin’ this year, from karma paper company!

So many people who are close to me have big, busy upcoming events – babies, weddings, new jobs, business growth, school, personal goals…I love getting to support all the people I love in their celebrations and achieving their goals! Comment and let me know what plans and goals you’re working on! And look for a post soon on how I try to keep it all together with so many things going on all the time. A colleague asked me for a mental health post, so it’s coming soon to a blog near you 🙂

Wants // back to school

I cannot believe that I start teacher work days THIS WEEK.

Yesterday I spent about 3 hours transferring from my last year school calendar to my new one for this year. I am so excited! Call me crazy, but I love the feeling of getting all my important dates into a new planner. This year I have some really exciting stuff coming up! My best friend is getting married (!!!) and I’m taking on some new classes and roles at school this year.

Speaking of getting back to school, there are some items I’m reallllly jonesin’ for in anticipation of a new school year. Clothes, accessories, and classroom/desk items, to be precise! Currently these things are all sitting in a cart somewhere online (it’s my classic move – I’m a pro at pretend online shopping without ever pulling the trigger). But a girl can still dream, can’t she?!

1. Fitbit Alta HR – to count all my steps while I teach all day, plus calculate calorie burn during workouts! My old Fitbit is the original and it is on its last leg. And perfect world, perfect hair day, I’d get the blush pink with rose gold plate (duh). I also love being able to track my sleep!

2. Perfect rose gold desk accessories – basic desk kit, with a pen/pencil cup, stapler, tape dispenser, and some cute binder clips. Because what use are binder clips if they’re not cute?! (Just kidding. Binder clips in any way, shape, or form are lifesavers to a teacher.)

3. Paper clip holder – because I use about 18 million paper clips a day. Also rose gold. Because, well, matching.

4. 3-drawer tiny stacking unit – for paper clips, push pins, erasers, whatever I want! Also…rose gold…because, well, matching!!! And you don’t have to mention to me that I already have a paper clip holder in my cart. This is my daydream, so let me have it and be impractical if I want to!

5. Marble gray desk pad – because I want to be like all the other trendy people and I’m in love with gray marble.

6.Steve Madden slides – in blush…I’m sensing a pattern here and feeling a little embarrassed. I like rose gold and blush pink, okay?! Who doesn’t?! These would be perfect for school and would transition to regular life, too (all my dreams coming true in one little slide).

7. Work pants – loving these slim pants, these fun polka dot pants, and these pixie ankle pants in the winter wine color.

8. Dresses – this one and this one. Easy to dress up or down!

9. These black wedges. Classic with a twist! Plus a teacher left a review that they’re great for being on your feet all day!

10. If I was going to splurge on a cute & trendy desk chair – this one, this one, this one! Maybe next year, after I win the lottery!

What’s on your back to school list? If “back to school” doesn’t really apply to you, what items do you just have to have for fall this year? I’m always dying to add something else to my pretend online shopping carts 😉

 

Classic with a twist // MAXOUThappy

my first-ever blog photoshoot with whitney 🙂

When I started MAXOUThappy, I really wanted to do it the right way. I researched for hours, stalked favorite blogs, read articles about how to blog, how to design, what hosting site to use, etc. All the behind the scenes stuff. I worked for Kate Bryan at thesmallthingsblog last summer as an intern, which was so cool, and I learned a lot about blogging. I took a Skillpop class about blogging basics with Molly Stillman and hope to take another one from her as soon as it’s offered.

I recently met up with Whitney, and we were discussing ideas and thoughts for her photography business and for MAXOUThappy. I mentioned that I never really know what to say when people ask me the inevitable question:  “So what’s your blog about?” I usually just say it’s a lifestyle blog, so it’s a little bit of everything…but I wanted to have a more focused description. I’ve mentioned my “classic with a twist” style before; but what is MAXOUThappy really about?! A fair question. Whitney helped me really narrow my focus into an idea that makes the most sense to me.

We both went to Meredith College and majored in Family and Consumer Sciences. We met on freshman move-in day and have been partners in crime ever since. I always wanted to teach high school, but I started out as an English major. I ended up switching after my sophomore year and Whitney did, too. Family and Consumer Sciences is what used to be called Home Economics, or “Home Ec.” I’ve caught a lot of flack over the years for going to Meredith, which by the way is a fantastic school, and for changing my major, which by the way is a fantastic major that is little-known and not as widely supported as it should be. A lot of people love to joke about getting your M-R-S degree at Meredith, or that my major is to help me be a better housewife some day. I’d love to tell all those people where they can put their opinions, but instead, I’d really rather help people get it. Family and Consumer Sciences is based on the idea that everything begins in the home and spreads out to the community and beyond. What we can solidify in the home/family and what we can improve on with an individual directly affects the outreach and impact of that individual. We are not people in a vacuum. We are all interconnected and how we live our lives and help others (or not) affects and sparks change in the world. My major is not about cooking and cleaning to be someone’s home maker, although there’s nothing wrong with that job, either. Family and Consumer Sciences is about creating change, addressing global issues, and helping others.

Being able to teach about Parenting and Child Development, Human Services, Foods and Nutrition, Food Science, Interiors, Personal Finance, and Textiles/Apparel gives me such a wide range of topics to be able to help mold the teenagers in my classroom, and hopefully it spreads out beyond them. I realized that the things I write about on the blog tend to trace their way back to one of these areas, and figuring that out really gave me a sense of pride for all the hours I have spent defending and supporting my college major.

So that, along with my “classic with a twist” take on life, is what brings me back here to the blog drawing board week after week…to say “a little bit of everything,” but with this lens of helping others, improving life, talking about real issues from time to time, and throwing in some happy fluff in-between the real talk. It always seems a little silly to think that a post I wrote about lipstick or a new pair of shoes I got is going to help someone, but I guess the idea is just to spread a little joy around, because life has enough blah already. I am a generally happy person and I work on maximizing that happiness to enjoy the life I’ve been given. It’s not realistic to say I’m always happy or that life doesn’t get me down; if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that isn’t true. But I am an optimist and I love to write; I always have. I used to write chapter books as a child, I’ve started a million novels, I wrote my eBook last year, and I have this blog. I’m so interested in words, the meaning of them, and how they can go together in a million different combinations to evoke different feelings. A nerd? Sure. But I’m happy with that. If I can help get anything positive across to anyone, in any small way, I feel so accomplished. When people come out of the woodworks to tell me they read my blog or enjoy it, it truly makes my day. So, happy reading! Now you know what MAXOUThappy is all about. 🙂

a magnet reminder on my fridge 🙂

What you didn’t know you needed

your basic toes in the sand picture 

I looked through some old blog posts recently (it’s hard to believe I’ve been at this thing seriously for two years now!), and what I notice the most when I’m gettin’ in my feels on a blog post is this theme of balance. Taking time for yourself. Saying NO to things so you can say YES to what you really need. I’ve said it a million times:  I overextend myself. I have a tendency to do too much. I need to slow down. I need to take care of myself. It’s there, in a hundred different phrases with a hundred different deliveries (all eloquent and witty, of course, I’m sure).

So this week at the beach with my family is a reminder to myself that this is exactly what I didn’t know I needed. Walking for miles on the beach, collecting sea shell after sea shell, running the dogs until we all can’t breathe and we’re panting and happy. I’m having some adult beverages and a lot of water, going to bed early to get up and meet the sun, and trying to stretch my brain playing Scattergories at night – and giggling when we come up with crazy words and fight for justification.

I know there are beach people and mountain people and indoor people and all kinds of other people, but the beach has always been my happy place. Every year as a kid, my family took a trip to the beach and as an adult, the beach just brings me back to that feeling. The feeling of having nothing you have to do, and being able to enjoy whatever you want with toes in the sand and wind in your hair. As an adult, I have to work a lot harder to be able to not have to do anything for a week…but it’s so worth it once you’re actually sitting in a chair, book in hand, waves rolling out in front of you.

360 degrees of beach watching

hey mom

living their best life, running from waves

We don’t realize how much the stresses of day-to-day life get to us. We walk around tense and tight, with knots in our necks and shoulders because we try to push everything down so we can make it to the next thing. We do need to slow down and take care of ourselves, and even if it isn’t for a week at the beach or any type of vacation at all, we have to intentionally set time aside to breathe and just be. It’s just what we didn’t know we really, really needed.

Now I’m going to finish this post so I can go enjoy the ocean and challenge the sun with SPF 70 applications every two hours. I’ll keep you posted on the winner.

P.S. For a little throwback action, here’s my first post ever!

FriYAY feels + a little about me!

Photo by Whitney at J Parker Photography, tank is old from target

Happy Friyay! I’m off to the beach for a whole week with my family, and Andrew’s coming for the weekend! I am tickled pink. I have worked all summer and haven’t really done anything out of the ordinary, so this vacation has been so exciting to look forward to! I plan to lounge around, do yoga on the beach, walk for miles, read, and work on the blog! Plus I’m sure I’ll get a killer tan pink skin and freckles while I’m there. I asked for some good book recommendations on Facebook and got a few great responses! Now I have a wonderful list of books to download to my Kindle.

I thought I’d use today as a Friday introduction! Most of you know I’m a high school teacher and that I adore my dogs, but maybe you don’t know that I have three tattoos, or that I used to grind my teeth back and forth to the syllables people spoke when I was a kid (weird habit).  I love learning unique and quirky things about people that make them who they are, so I’m laying it all out on the table for you today. I mean we’re all weird, right? It’s fine? I’m fine?

Here we go!

-This one’s not so weird, but I love to read. Not just books. If there are words, I’m excited about them. Directions, research papers, cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, news articles, magazines, road signs. I can’t help myself. I used to be the annoying kid in class who raised her hand every time the teacher wanted someone to read.

-I mentioned grinding my teeth as child. It was the weirdest habit. When people spoke, or if I was watching TV, I would grind my teeth back and forth to every syllable. If my top teeth landed “forward” on someone’s last word, I’d hope to end up “backward” on the next last word. And the game continued until everything felt “even.” Am I weird? I’m weird. I dropped the habit at some point, but still.

-I have a strange thing with balance and things being “even.” I’m not sure if it’s a Libra thing or just a me thing. If one window is rolled down, the other needs to be the same height, if I walk over a crack in the sidewalk with my left foot, I like to walk over the next with my right, etc. This used to cause me a lot of grief as a kid but I’ve learned to live in this crazy world somehow. 😉

-I cannot stand to be poked. I flip out involuntarily – flailing my arms, smacking someone, etc. This goes back to the even thing – it has to be happening on both sides of my body evenly or it just isn’t right. When someone jiggles their leg on one side of me it’s the same thing.

-Tattoos:  I have three of them and they all have longer stories, but here’s the short version. I got my first when I was 18 with my best friend Whitney. It’s a sunshine we always used to doodle and we drew it on our feet with sharpies for weeks before committing. Mine is on my left foot; she has the same one on her other foot. My second one I got with my other best friend since childhood, Lindsay. She got an arrow down her arm, I got a Libra constellation behind my ear. It looks like a kite and I think it’s inaccurate, so there’s that. Third and final is a tattoo on my wrist that you’ve probably seen in a lot of my pictures. My sister has the same one on her other wrist, and it is in memory of our grandparents who passed away. They were so special to our family and they were truly lovebirds till the end, and a great example of what a marriage should be. Every time I see my tattoo I think of them!

-I really love making things with raw ground beef, like meatloaf. I just like the look and texture of it and I like browning it or mixing it in the bowl with my hands to go into the oven. (I’m starting to feel really weird now; TELL ME I’M NOT ALONE).

-Obsessed with lists and planners. I could really go into detail here, but let’s leave it at that.

-I love being busy and don’t usually take a ton of time to myself to relax, so I have to remind myself to do that or “plan” me time/downtime. It’s not that I don’t like relaxing – DUH – but I just love feeling productive and getting things accomplished.

-I can’t watch awkward moments on TV/in movies. I have to cover my eyes and look away like a kid! It pains me for them or something…the actors getting paid millions.

-Absolutely in love with every single dog, not just my own. I love cats and all animals in general, but I can’t imagine a world without dogs. Whenever I see one, I feel like the world becomes a brighter place. I’m the person that follows a zillion dog Instagram accounts.

-I am super intimidated by social media. There is so much of it, so many apps, so many ways to connect. And for blogging, I’m trying really hard to get “good” at all of them, and it is so overwhelming! I’m trying, though. I’m tweeting and Facebooking and Instagram story-ing and Snapchatting and trying to post all the things without being annoying. It is tough out there!

-I won’t set alarms for “regular” times. It has to be a number that feels right. My favorites are :32, :47, :03, :17, and :54.

-Finally, I’m very intrigued by the tiny home movement. I love small spaces and organized living and I think in a tiny house the ways to organize space are so clever. Sometimes I think of donating all my things and living in a tiny house with a big fenced in yard for the dogs and just making it my own. If you haven’t, google it and look at some YouTube videos of tiny houses. There are some incredible ones out there!

I think that’s enough about me for now…let me know if you have any other questions! Thanks to all of you who read my blog. You have no idea how much it means to me!