PAPER WITH A PURPOSE

In case this is your first time here: Hi, I’m Sydney and I’m a compulsive list writer.

Which means I am also a serious sucker for a good writing journal.  Truthfully, I keep notebooks for everything … One for lesson plans, one for work outs, one for day-to-day to-do lists, one for my wannabe-artist doodles, one for house hunting (uh YES! we are buying a house!! which is super exciting, but can also be overwhelming– hence the need for list making).  I am a person that absolutely-100%-I-need-it-or-my-brain-will-explode-and-nothing-will-ever-get-done rely on my plethora of lists.

Thank goodness for Pen + Pillar.

FullSizeRender3Taylor Mahkle is one of the absolutely most fantastic creators out there.  Her designs are gorgeous, without being too overwhelming or busy.  Her colors are vibrant, but not so in your face that you feel like a walking neon sign. There is a serious water-color vibe to her work that feels simple, but unique.

Plus, her actual products themselves are HIGH QUALITY.  A true stationary freak like myself can appreciate this.  You can tell that Taylor values putting out good items.  It’s a classic quality over quantity situation.  There is definite love and purpose put into every single product.

Oh and the best part (I mean as if it could get better than supporting a small business, drooling over outstanding artwork, and writing every little list your heart desires): 10% of each Pen + Pillar sale goes towards helping refugees get settled and feel safe in their new home.  How incredible is that?!

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TBT: THE not-so-GREAT OUTDOORS

I am noticing that most of my favorite posts tend to deal with things getting messed up.  I like that and am going to use it as an excuse for the ridiculously high number of things I will mess up (and cry about at the time, but laugh about later) in the future.

Originally posted: November 17th 2015
Throwing snow

As you scroll through your Instagram or Pinterest feed, chances are at one point or another you will find some sort of picture of beautiful outdoor scenery accompanied by an ambiguous, but heartfelt quote regarding the beauty of nature.  Admittedly, I love those pictures!  But, sometimes the great outdoors are just not that great.  Below is a real account of one of my latest, tear-filled, deer-chasing, boots-full-of-snow nature outing.  Disclaimer: I have moved past this, so feel no guilt in laughing at my expense as you read along.

B Snow WalkBeing the high-strung, easily-stressed, and all around neurotic person that I am, I need some sort of outlet to allow me to relax.  Based off of some of my other posts, or my Instagram pictures, or even just the name of this blog, you may have guessed that being outdoors is that outlet for me.  Insert inspiring John Muir and/or Ralph Waldo Emerson quote here.

Usually, the outdoors are calming and a break from whatever work/financial/can’t-decide-what-outfit-to-wear-for-the-holidays issue I may be having.  Usually.
However, this is not a 100% of the time fool-proof stress reliever.  As I’m sure mothers of small or significant others of highly-emotional individuals, would be able to easily attest to—sometimes just the act of getting to and enjoying the outdoors can be a major stressor.

Continue reading TBT: THE not-so-GREAT OUTDOORS

TBT: MY HARDEST BREAK-UP

The first time I posted this the shock value with my friends and family was fantastic.  Absolutely my favorite part of the post.  But, it goes beyond the shock.  I am weirdly and unabashedly connected to this piece.

Originally posted: August 16th 2016

I tend to toe the line between product reviews, outdoors love (less than I would like, as of late), and oversharing my emotions here on mgg So, I figured it was about time I walk you through an exceptionally difficult time in my life.

It gets talked about a lot, but social media is just a snippet of one’s life. And even though I try to keep mine pretty real, I definitely gloss over some of the messier business I go through. But, I’m just like everyone else (of course I am… every 20-something with a tiny bit of extra time and a sense of ‘I can be witty and informative’ out there has a blog too!). Not everything is perfect.

I forget to switch over the laundry, so it starts to smell. I have days where I’m moody and pick fights (today). I get too lazy to take Teton for a walk. I cry, a lot. I pretend to read when really I’m watching YouTube.

It’s not all hikes and farmer’s markets. No matter how much I like to pretend it is

And that’s why I haven’t shared my hardest break up with you, yet. It’s not shiny or pretty. But, I want to be honest.

My 10 year relationship was recently ended. I was forced to sever ties and come to terms with the fact that we would not be getting back together. There was no patching things up this time.

Continue reading TBT: MY HARDEST BREAK-UP

TBT: I SUCK AT CLEANSING

This is a super fun read, based off of a super miserable experience.

My favorite posts tend to be a bit lengthier and heartfelt, but this one is perfect for that mid-week chuckle.

Originally posted: July 15th 2016

After a few weeks of too many beers, greasy food, unusually high amounts of stress(even with the tolerance I have built due to my constantly-stressed-about-the-most-trivial-things-self) and travel, I decided my body seriously needed a cleanse. I needed to restart, reboot, and to stop feeling like complete crap (so far in this post I have said sucks and crap– both words my mom hates but are totally necessary). So, I ordered my first ever juice cleanse from Pressed Juicery.

And like any good girlfriend, I forced Brady to do it with me.

We opted for the Cleanse 1, which was designed for beginners. Here’s a little run down of how my day spent cleansing went:

Continue reading TBT: I SUCK AT CLEANSING

TBT: EMERALD BAY CAMPING

Out of all my Tahoe posts I was really struggling which one to pick to re-share.  This was such a special memory for me, I was super nervous about picking the ‘right’ one and doing it justice (almost as nervous as I was writing them).  But, this has to be may hands-down winner.  It gives a quick overview of the trip and some insight into the relationship Stetson and I have.  It’s funny this post talks about how we were starting to get so busy and were getting less time together… it’s almost like I want to shake 2015-Sydney… she had absolutely no idea how much more true that would become.

Originally posted: July 30th 2015

Our last night on Lake Tahoe.
Our last night on Lake Tahoe.

Initially, when Stetson was telling me about the Tahoe trip, he had planned I was a tiny bit apprehensive. Maybe even, a lot to panicattack level apprehensive. He was keeping me pretty much in the dark about everything we were doing. Every single detail; right down to where/what we were going to eat for each meal. For someone who loves a solid plan as much as I do, to say it was overwhelming would be a serious understatement. However, I have to hand it to him, he did such an amazing job. I’ve talked about different bits and pieces about the trip in several posts, but it has been broken up into smaller chunks. Now, with this post I want to focus on the tail end of our trip and tie it all together.

Here’s how the trip ended up breaking down:

  • Day 1- arrive in Tahoe, grab some phenomenal dinner at Mountain View BBQ, set up camp at a nearby campsite and settle in
  • Day 3- get backpacking map and insight from the lovely people at Alpenglow Sports, paddle board, quick little hike to an awesome lookout point, cook burgers at camp
  • Day 4- pack up camp, ridiculously-slow-but-incredibly-delicious breakfast at Rosie’s Cafe, take off on our backpacking adventure (see Backpacking Day 1 post)
  • Day 5- hike, hike, jam toes into end of shoe, hike, get sort of lost, find incredibly disappointing lake, sleep (see Backpacking Day 2 post)
  • Day 7- paddle board and kayak, jump off rocks, paddle board and kayak
  • Day 8- load up camp, paddleboard and kayak back to our parking area, load up and hit the road for Wyo!

Just remembering all of that and putting it on paper (or into a computer screen) is pretty exhausting. But, unbelievably cool. Basically, I have covered everything that Stetson and I did all the way through backpacking (and I went super link happy, so you can read any of the posts you missed). Afterwards, we just set up a campsite and explored the lake until it was time to come home, real relaxing way to wrap up the week.

Stets relaxing once we finally made it.
Stets relaxing once we finally made it.

Oh yeah, I should probably tell you where we camped. No biggie, really, it was just… EMERALD BAY! The Emerald Bay.  The most beautiful place I have ever seen. The world-renowned, scenic camping area. The place people cram the side of the road just to get a picture of. Yeah, we were camping there. (And as I have mentioned, my geography or knowledge of important places in general is not top notch. So, I didn’t realize just how famous Emerald Bay was until after I got home and started noticing pictures of it everywhere.) It was absolutely stunning. And we were at a ‘boat in’– or kayak/paddle board in if you can’t afford a boat like us– campsite, so it was extra secluded.

While our location was absolutely picture perfect, getting there was not. Like I said, Stetson had done all of the planning and was incredibly meticulous.   He knew every single detail: from where we were renting our gear to what restaurants we would eat at to what meals we would make each day at camp (they were even pre-portioned and labeled), he had thought of absolutely everything. Except as we were pulling into the parking area for the campsite he had booked (which was across the bay from the actual site) we noticed something a little strange—it was closed. A bit of a curveball for us because Stetson had booked the site in advance and had even looked at the map to see where we would park and how far we would have to kayak/paddle board with out gear to get to our spot. What either the website failed to mention or we failed to notice, was yes, the campsite is open, but no the parking lot is not available until the next month.

Thankfully, this wasn’t a huge deal, as Stetson knew of another area where we could park overnight and depart from that beach. Everything was good to go! The only minor change was that now instead of a 15-minute trip across the bay, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog, we had a 2-hour trip (still, loaded down with everything we needed to camp and Stetson’s dog). Just a small change. But, clearly no big deal for Stetson—who had paddle boarded once before in his entire life—and myself—who had never kayaked–  ever.

Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.
Attempting to kayak without losing all of our gear.

Because Stetson was on the paddle board and was already in charge of balancing a Golden Retriever on there with him, I was kayaking. Oh, and carrying all the gear. On my first trip. Ever. Luckily, we could fit most everything that we needed into our 2 backpacking packs, with just a few added luxuries (like new craft beers and a classy bag o’ wine). We tossed Stetson’s pack behind my seat and placed mine in between/on my legs in front of me. I’m sure onlookers at the beach were taking bets on our success/failure rate, but eventually we made our way out into the water and away from the shore. Which is promptly when my over thinking/nervousness kicked in—“Stets, I think I’m going too far from the shoreline!…Stets, my paddle is pushing me a lot more right than left!… Stets, I accidentally turned around!… Stets, can this kayak even support this much weight?!” All within our first 10 minutes. So, Stetson promptly and very gently told me he ‘needed me to grow up for just a second.’ And I stopped pestering him.

*A bit later, while we were still on the 2 hour trek, but both markedly less stressed because we were getting the hang of it, he apologized and I explained that as the younger sister I just needed him to answer my questions in whatever way would make me feel better, even if he didn’t really know the answer for sure. I had done this as a little kid too—“Stets, can this little seatbelt really hold me in on this rollercoaster?” I just liked the blind reassurance.*

Finally, we made it to our campsite. And it was completely worth it! First of all, I looked at all of the people bringing in their gear off of their insanely fancy/fast boats as total posers. And second of all, our campsite was AMAZING. We were, in fact, pretty happy campers. We again set up camp; we were getting pretty skilled in that area by this point in the trip. Then, it was time to crash. I mean, we had started the morning backpacking out of the hell, that is more commonly known as ‘Frog Lake.’ It had been a long day.

DCIM100GOPROThe next morning we had a lazy breakfast with some camp coffee—which is just regular coffee that you drink when you’re camping. It was incredibly nice to have a morning where we didn’t feel rushed or like we needed to hustle to keep on schedule. But, we did want to take full advantage of our day with the paddle board and kayak, so after clean up we set off for the water. We spent the entire day out on the lake (I talk about this day in detail in my previous post, Paddle Boarding and Kayaking). Then made it back, just in time thanks to a little windstorm, for our last camp dinner. We stayed up that night finishing off the last of our provisions (camp wine mostly). It was a really strange feeling to be so utterly exhausted, but completely relaxed at the same time. Our week had been very go, go, go, so we were pretty worn out by this point. But, we were also in that full-on vacation mode, where you aren’t really worrying about anything that’s going on back at home or at work. It was definitely a different mix of feelings, but not in a bad way at all.

DCIM100GOPRO
All packed up!

The next morning we packed up and hit the water. We weren’t necessarily in a hurry, but we did have a 14-hour drive ahead of us, so we wanted to get to the car in decent time. By this point I was an expert, so I looked pretty much like Carl Lewis gliding on top of the water out there. We made it back to the car in good time and got all packed up to head home.

***

Early on in the week, I made the comment to Stetson that I was glad we were doing this trip, because it would probably be the last solely brother/sister trip we got to do. Of course, he gave me hard time the entire week about that comment, pretending I was being all pessimistic and such. But really what I meant was how jacked I was that we actually were doing this. I’ve tried to explain it before, and it’s a little difficult: but I just don’t feel like people are used to a brother/sister pair that are such good friends. Yes, for sister and sister or brother and brother it’s almost expected, but brother and sister is different. People are usually pretty surprised.

Friends for the longest time.
Friends for the longest time.

But, we have been this way my entire life. Honestly. Not, in the cheesy “Oh, we are best friends—but really we only hang out when forced to at family holidays way” or the #bestfriends post on Instagram for #NationalSiblingsDay (which, let’s be honest, comes about 7 times a year). We are honest-to-goodness friends. We hang out and watch baseball games. We go to happy hour. We fish. We get into fights. We eat 3 entire pizzas, as a team. It’s a real friendship. So, yeah I thought it was pretty darn neat that he planned this whole weeklong trip for us to take together. Plus, we are getting older and both of us are starting to get busier with work and our relationships. And that’s a great thing! And I’m definitely happy for both of us. But, it does mean less time with just us. So, no matter how much he made fun of me, I still mean what I said. I’m incredibly glad we took that trip.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TBT: OUR BODIES KICK BUTT

We are going to be throwin’ it back all week long.  Lately, I’ve had a handful of new readers (welcome and thank you) and I wanted a chance to share some of my favorite posts again.  Now, sometimes when I look back at older posts (especially some of my earliest ones) it can be a lot like looking back at an awkward phase school picture (enter Stetson and I in matching vests/chopping off my bangs into nubs as a fourth graders/braces with a rubber band cutting right across the front of my mouth).  It’s painful and embarrassing and you can’t believe it’s been captured forever.  But, other times they bring back some of my favorite memories.  So, let’s focus on that bit.

This is one of my favorite posts because 1. I was terrified to post it and 2. I tend to need these reminders every few months.

Originally posted: September 10, 2015
This is a post that I have had in mind for quite some time, but I have continuously put it off. My excuse for this was that I am not an expert in this area, so I shouldn’t be writing about it. And then I remembered that I’m not an expert about anything that I write about on here…

Continue reading TBT: OUR BODIES KICK BUTT

THE PERFECT BALANCE: Wild Mountain Ink

I love shopping small.

I love stuff made in Montana.

I love anything that distracts from my continually messy hair.

I love Wild Mountain Ink.

Showcasing creators that I care about is hands-down my favorite thing to do here on mgg. And Hailey from Wild Mountain Ink is the absolute best.  I found out about her through some low-key insta-stalking.  First, I was incredibly jealous checking out her artistic skill, adorable (and much better behaved than mine) dog, and Montana adventures.  But, I did manage to harness that jealousy into some solid 21st-century-you-go-girl style support.  And I am so glad that I did because her jewelry has made me look much cooler than I actually am.


I am definitely partial to the stud earrings.  I love that they are simple and pretty, but don’t get in my way.  Day to day, I tend to just wear earrings and my engagement ring (oh, you didn’t know I was getting married? Have you not been following my obnoxious Insta posts or seen me walking down the street with my left hand shoved in the air for the past month?).  These pieces are an everyday essential for me.

Hailey also carries her outstanding mountains and tree designs to dangling earrings.  If you prefer that slightly more feminine touch I HIGHLY recommend checking those out.

For those of you who are a little fancier than me on the day to day (it’s not hard…), or want some extra beautiful necklaces to mix into your wardrobe WMI does carry GORGEOUS pendant necklaces.  Her mountains pieces are what initially caught my eye, but right now there is a birch tree series that I am in love with.  Every piece is unique and detailed, but still simple.

Finally, feel free to put off all responsibility and get lost checking out the illustrations Hailey offers in her etsy shop.  It’s the absolute best time-waster and truly impressive.

*Bonus: WMI now has tie-bars and they such a subtlety cool touch on a classy shirt and tie combo.

      
The mountains are calling… Get it?

Seriously, check out Wild Mounatin Ink –her goods are way better than my jokes.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

13 THINGS YOU LEARN DURING A HALF MARATHON

This year I decided to run a half marathon each month.  Of course, I had never run a half marathon before.  Ever.  But, starting with 13 in 2017 seemed like the perfect move (yes, I know there are only 12 months in a year, but I am throwing in a bonus one for a nice even 13).

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Now, with how much I over-think/over-stress/over-analyze everything, this decision came shockingly quickly.  One night, in the last week of January I couldn’t sleep and this thought popped up in my head (along with 3,458 other thoughts).  The next day I told Brady about my idea, so I had someone to hold me accountable.  Then, that weekend I ran 13.1 miles (on the treadmill, with my iPad catching me up on all of my favorite ABC shows like any truly dedicated runner).

Continue reading 13 THINGS YOU LEARN DURING A HALF MARATHON

GOIN’ ROGUE (and a little wild)

One of the biggest pushes for me to get back into this MGG world was my NEED to share some of my favorite businesses to support. And in a way that was a bit less abrasive than launching into an over-the-top monologue with anyone who complimented my skin (whether it was a grocery clerk or friend’s mother, I was all over it). The first business I knew I had to cover was Wild Rogue Botanicals.

I am obsessed with skincare. Truly. I have 4 makeup products that I use everyday and they fit very comfortably in a mini makeup bag. Which is perfect because I need 2 entire drawers for my skincare. I have always had kind of problematic skin and I love testing new products to do whatever I can to combat that.

Continue reading GOIN’ ROGUE (and a little wild)