JUNE BOXYCHARM

June BoxAfter I got back from Tahoe—where believe me, I was not winning any beauty awards—my June BoxyCharm was waiting in the mailbox for me! And I desperately needed it.

JB LineupThe theme this month was “Sea La Vie.” And despite living in landlocked Wyo after spending some quality time on Lake Tahoe, I felt like I was deserving of the sea life. So, I jumped right in to opening it (even though it was 4 in the morning and we had just finished our 14 hour road trip).

Once again, I do not know how this company does it. I paid my normal $21 and the box this month was worth $118! It’s insane. Flat out craziness. But, I’m alright with this kind of craziness.

ESLOR CHLOROPHYLL LIFTING MASK

Chlor Mask Okay, this mask is designed to tighten skin and diminish fine lines. As a 23 year old, I was a little unsure that I needed this quite yet. But, I do love to try out a nice face mask, so I decided to give this a go. Oh my goodness, did it feel good?! It has an awesome cooling feeling when you put it on. And it smells like seaweed, without being over-the-top and making you feel like they just grabbed whatever washed up on the beach and told you to rub it on your face. Possibly– definitely– my favorite part had to be the lack of mess though! Some masks create such a muddy mess all over my bathroom counter, I spend the entire time cleaning the counter instead of enjoying the relaxing mud slathered on my face. Then, if I can leave the bathroom, I end up dropping little chunks of gunk all over my house. This mask has absolutely no mess! It just leaves a thin film on your face.  Admittedly, I did try this the very day after I got back from Tahoe, so my face was needing a little love after only using face wipes and river/lake water for a week.

Of course, I haven’t used this long enough to tell you about the long-term effects. But, it feels darn good on the skin! It’s $38, but for the amount of product– and considering how little you need to use for each application, it will last a long time—I think it’s worth a purchase.

BELLAPIERRE COSMETICS KABUKI BRUSH

Kabuki There isn’t a ton to say about this product. It’s a high quality brush. It’s dense. It’s insanely soft (this may just be shocking to me because my old Kabuki brush is so dirty, and stiff it’s like blending in make-up with sandpaper). It doesn’t shed. Really everything that you are looking for in a good kabuki.

My skin is pretty dry, so I don’t use a ton of powder products, but during summer I do like to use a translucent powder to set my make-up. This is especially true as I am just about to get into full-swing of wedding season, and I’ll want my make-up to last for a long time while I’m killing it on the dance floor. This brush retails for $30. And while I am really happy to have it, I do think if you are going to purchase just a kabuki brush, you could find others that do the same job, but are a bit more affordable.

THE BEAUTY CROP LIGHTING CREW HIGHLIGHTING CREAM

TBC Highlight This product was the most unique one in the box, and the one I was most excited for. I mean, of course, the packaging drew me in right away… but I had also never tried a cream (they describe it as “cream” I consider it to be more of a liquid) highlighter, so I was really excited to see what it was all about. I am pretty late to the highlighter game. First, I swatched it on my hand. The color is a beautiful rose-gold-ish highlight, AND the swatch stayed put and looked beautiful all day. It wasn’t one of those products where it runs all over, then you just look like a disco ball exploded all over your face.

This runs at $18 dollars and I would say it’s worth it. So far, my favorite way to use this is to apply a thin line to the top of my cheekbones, then blend it in with a damp beauty blender. I have also used it as an inner-eye-corner highlight or a brow bone highlight. Both are beautiful. You can use this mixed in with foundation or a BB cream for an all over glow. I have been a bit apprehensive to try this, but may give it a shot if I’m feeling adventurous and extra luminous some day.

*Note: when I first broke the seal I lost quite a bit product. This tends to happen because Laramie has such a high elevation, and lots of products that ship from lower elevation (just like Florida, where BoxyCharm ships from) tend to have some pressure issues. Just keep that in mind if you decide to purchase this item.

NCLA NAIL LACQUER in “Volumn IV”

Nude Nail polish So, we have received ncLA nail lacquer before in a box. It was a clear polish with little sequins hearts in it (for Valentine’s Day), which was cute, but hard to apply. This polish, however, is absolutely phenomenal. It’s a great nude shade, for when you don’t know what color you want to paint you nails. Personally, I love bright nail polishes for summer, but there is something about a good nude that just looks put-together and clean. It’s a very polished look! Pun= check!

This nail polish (or “lacquer” if there is a difference besides sounding fancier) is $16 dollars, which is expensive for a polish. Thanks to BoxyCharm I have gotten to try a few different high-end nail polish brands, and I will say that this one is probably my favorite. The formula is really smooth and easy to apply. The colors are unique. And they last a really long time on the nail without chipping. So, if you do feel like splurging a bit on a polish, I recommend this one.

CARGO COSMETICS EYE SHADOW SINGLE in “Pasadena”

CargoDuring the summer, I use very little eye shadow. At most I will use a big blending brush and run it over my crease with a soft brown eye shadow, or even my bronzer. Just a little something to give my eyes shape. This color is also beautiful for just that. It’s a really smooth, matte pink. And I have never used a Cargo eye shadow, but I have always heard super positive reviews about the brand. All of the hype is totally true. This shadow blends absolutely flawlessly, and they are pigmented without being scary. While $16 is quite steep for one eye shadow, these are no joke. If you are like me and prefer really, really simple eye looks, I recommend picking up just one or two crease colors. With the size of the shadow you should be set for awhile.

So far this is my favorite box! There weren’t any crazy, big-hitter items. Just practical, quality products. I have tried each item and loved them. But, even better: I consistently find myself reaching for these items. They are definitely not just a one-and-done product, like some of my others from BoxyCharm, where I like it but don’t actually use it. These are super practical for the summer time and fit into my whole “minimal-makeup-without-looking-like-a-complete-rag-muffin” vibe.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TOUGH MUDDER- TAHOE

This probably is already incredibly obvious, but I am ridiculously tough. I am one of those people that really just annihilates whatever comes my way. Well, maybe not exactly be true. But, I have now officially completed the Tough Mudder 3 times! So, that definitely counts for something.

Tough Mudder is a 10+ mile race with 20+ obstacles. There are different events all over the country and the courses are all different, but challenging in their own way. (Here’s what our course looked like.)

Last week my brother, Stetson, and I spent a full week in Tahoe. It was our first time visiting and we completely loved it. We spent the entire time camping, did some back packing, but the original reason that prompted us to make the trip was the Tough Mudder. I will be doing posts about the rest of the trip in the near future. This post is going to focus on the Tough Mudder.

The Tough Mudder has gotten increasingly popular in the last few years. And rightly so, it is such a fun event that supports a wonderful cause. The Tough Mudder is a major supporter of The Wounded Warrior Project. The money raised for this organization goes to supporting service members who return from duty with either mental or physical injuries. And what I really appreciate about this event in particular, is that they bring the charity to the forefront of the event. The charity is a main focus, not just a sidenote.

Stets and me after our first Tough Mudder.
Stets and me after our first Tough Mudder.

Another reason, why the Tough Mudder is extra special to me is that a group of us participated in the Tough Mudder just the second year that is was around. Which also happened to be the year that my step-mom was on a 400 day deployment to Kuwait. That year our entire team followed the American theme.

Team America for our second Tough Mudder.
Team America for our second Tough Mudder.

TM GirlsSo, the first two times that Stetson and I participated in the Tough Mudder were in Beaver Creek, Colorado. We did it with a group of buddies from college. We all drove down together, stayed at the resort, ran our 10+ miles, limped to dinner, and then ate a ridiculous amount of food to cancel out all of our physical activity. Well, I am have put more emphasis on the eating insane amounts of food than others. One year there was a special “Tough Mudder Burger.” Myself, and two other male friend in our group ordered it. One ate half. The other finished, but got sick later. I ate the entire thing and helped finish the first guy’s fries. I’m pretty impressive.

Back to the race though. We did two Tough Mudders back-to-back years at Beaver Creek. Then, as more of us began graduating and moving it was kind of one of those things that just got phased out. But, it is an incredible event to do with your friends. There’s a sense of comredery that is unavoidable when you do something like this together. We had varying levels of fitness heading into it, but we all completed the whole thing together. It sounds cheesy, but it’s something that can’t be described. Having that teamwork is so important. Tough Mudder works really hard to emphasize that the Tough Mudder is NOT a race, but a challenge that you need teamwork and support to complete.

So, when Stetson suggested we try one this year as a pair I was up for it, but a bit nervous. There are definitely some obstacles from the first two that I vividly remember needing help from more than one of our team members. Specifically, any wall-climbing or run-up-this-ramp-and-jump thing. The best way I can describe what goes through my head during those obstacles is: “I’m running, I’m running, I need to jump, oh s*#t what are my arms doing, someone grab me!” Really athletic stuff.

But, it turns out we completely tore it up as a pair! Of course, we had to first master the art of making a joke to everyone we met about us not dating, to get that awkward conversation out of the way. Once, that was done, we were off and running. Literally. (Solid pun= check!)

Before we get on the course there is a warm-up guy, Coach. He wears aviators, has a killer mustache, AND the best 70s style coaching shorts around. Stets was insanely jealous. They play some pump-up music, go over some safety tips, and give you some time to stretch out. But, really it’s a lot of jumping around and getting excited. Then, they send you over to the starting line, and while Coach is fun and gets you super amped for the course, the next speaker is unbelievable. This guy brings everything back into focus. He reminds everyone that we are in this for comradery, and reminds us about The Wounded Warrior Project and supporting our troops. The same man has done this for each Tough Mudder I have been to, and the way that he can command and inspire a crowd is outstandingly impressive. Then it’s time to hit the trail! And good ol’ Tahoe decided to start with an unbelievably steep climb straight up one of the ski slopes…

Not exaggerating, that start uphill was probably the most difficult part for me. I lost a bit of my oomph climbing that thing. But, being the finely-tuned-machine that I am, I bounced right back. The funny thing with this course, is that it may seem like the over-20 obstacles including: electrical shock, log carry, mud pits, and menthol gas, would be the daunting part, but I find those to be a fun break. I really start to look forward to all of the obstacles (Arctic Enima included…). Some of these I was able to just power through: crawling under barbed wires through mud, jumping off a ledge into freezing cold water, and squeezing my way through a claustrophobic, little tube. Others definitely required Stetson, or even a whole team. And this was something that was unexpected, and super neat: we kept running into two pairs throughout the entire course that worked perfectly to help us through those team obstacles. We got to chat as we waited for water. We carried a log and used it to climb over a wall. We would each start running once we saw the other pair jogging along. So, the six of us (a couple from Chicago and a pair of buddies from California) became a sort-of-mini-team, while still getting to complete the course as pairs.

Making our way through Elctro- Shock Therapy. We each got hit. Stetson’s was pretty darn good.

Of course, I can’t forgot to mention the obstacles that I attempted and completely failed, namely anything monkey-bar related. I swear each time my goal is to get like 3 rungs into it… and each time I drop of the first rung. It’s ridiculous. But, I still try! As embarrassingly quick as the attempt may be, then I fall straight into whatever muddy-watery-sweat-filled-pit is waiting below.

After finishing, Stetson and I got our free beer! And headed to sit in the Truckee River and remove just a bit of the mud before beginning our week of camping and backpacking. Now, not to take anything away from the other Tough Mudders we did as a group, but finishing this course with Stetson and I as a sibling team was really cool. Stetson and I have always been super-close; he’s been my go-to person forever. Most people that we were able to talk to that day were so impressed that we were doing this as brother and sister. I must say I feel pretty special to have Stetson as such a close friend. It seems to me that there are lots of sister-sister things out there, or brother-brother things, but brother-sister is kind of no-man’s-land. So, I think we kick butt for sticking as a team and doing this.

And kuddos to him for getting my lazy-routine-loving-self there.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

DENVER TRIP

FavThis last weekend Brady and I took a quick trip down to Denver to ring in the start of summer. We were able to go watch our first Rockies game of the season and visit the Denver Zoo.  It was one of those sickly, sweet couples trips– they are super annoying to hear about when you’re single, but actually pretty enjoyable for the actual couple.  So, yes, we were kind of that couple, but nothing ridiculous.  We stayed at a beautiful, historic hotel right near the stadium and walked around drinking coffee and eating ice cream.  It was cheesy and a blast.

Rockies Game:

Field

First Rockies game of the season (for us) was a success! Well, they did lose, but we still had a blast.  Our seats were right on the 3rd baseline and just 13 rows up, so we were right in the action.  We have bounced around the ball park each time we go, and I have a great time no matter where we sit.  That being said… being that close was really cool.  I especially loved getting to watch the player to player interactions at first base, as you know that’s a factor when picking my favorite players.  Brady, however, picks his favorites a little differently.  Admittedly, he focuses on the actual baseball statistics and skills more than I do, but he also places a pretty big importance on walk up music.  And he was pleased to see that one of his favorites, DJ LaMahieu, still was rocking some killer walk-up music.

This game was a little special for us, as we were celebrating our 2 year anniversary.   And exactly two years ago we also went to a Rockies game.  It was really fun to see how we still love doing lots of the same activities, but the comfort level is way different.  For instance, I did not feel the need to have a mint between every sip of beer or bite of food at this game like I did at the first one.  I was thinking that it would be fun to compare pictures of us from both games, just to see how we have changed.  Disappointingly enough though, the only picture we have from that first game is one Brady took of the field… super romantic.

Denver Zoo:

The rhino was not cooperating for my picture, but my messy bun is on point.
The rhino was not cooperating for my picture, but my messy bun is on point.

Surprisingly, I had never been to the Denver Zoo before.  At least not that I can recall, possibly when I was very young.  It was an absolute blast though, we got to see all of the animals (except for the lions which was a bit disappointing) and it was a beautiful day.

We went on a Monday, which we thought was a super plan because it wouldn’t be nearly as busy as we assumed it was on the weekends.  And that did prove to be pretty true.  The only catch was that because it was a weekday tons of kids’ summer camps were there taking tours .  So, there were lots of “when are we going to sit down… Sally keeps tripping me… John farted again… I think I am going to die from starvation” going on around us.  Which we found decently entertaining; most of the camp leaders did not.

I did say that our weather was beautiful, and it was, but for Wyomingites like ourselves we found that pretty quickly we were sweaty messes.  Or we were “rolling beads” as Brady likes to put it.  Don’t worry though, beer and ice cream worked well to cool us down.

Both I and B
We did think ice cream and beer was a pretty solid combo as we explored a bit.

I do have to say that the giraffes were my favorite.  I was hoping to find a real obscure animal, that no one else likes to be my favorite, but the giraffes were just incredibly impressive to look at.  We both agreed that the zoo was phenomenal and we are glad we got to go, it just got a little sad sometimes to see the animals in such a small space.  There was a fat orangutang in particular that we thought looked a little bummed out.  Of course, I did look into it a bit more and it seems lots of zoos get these animals because they could no longer survive in the wild for whatever reason.  And I find that really cool.  It was such a fun touristy way to spend our day.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

PRODUCTIVITY

Now that I am in full-on summer vacation mode, I figured I should share some of my summer-living-knowledge with you. I am an expert at being mildly productive! I love squeezing in a few actual projects between laying in the yard with Teton and afternoon hikes. Mostly relaxing with very minor chores mixed in.

For real though, it is incredibly easy to slip into complete slug mode during vacation time and I personally feel a whole lot better when I am still accomplishing a few things.

Exercise:

Having cute exercising clothes definitely helps too.
Having cute exercising clothes definitely helps too.

Now, everyone is completely entitled to their own fitness regimine. But, I do find that including some kind of exercise in my day helps me be more productive as a whole. I have a lot more energy during the day if I work out. I know, I know, that sounds ridiculous—working out takes a lot of energy so it should make you more tired. Believe me, I had read about the whole “working out gives you energy” thing and never really understood it. It does work though. It gives me a nice jump start and then I am off and running. This is why I prefer to exercise in the morning, but I do need to lay my clothes out the night before just to give myself a little extra reminder.  Why do I put them in the bathroom? Well, being a human, the first thing I do when I get up is go to the bathroom, and it is much harder to skip out on a work out when everything is laying right there ready to go.

Routine:

I Love Routine!! I love having a routine so, so much, pretty much my first order of business once I started vacation was to set up a routine. Yes, I needed a ‘vacation routine.’ Alright, that may be a bit overboard, not every person needs a routine like I do. But, in order to keep from totally vegging out, having a routine helps a ton. Basically, with my routine I like to get all of my necessary chores done earlier in the day. Then they are out of the way and I can relax in the afternoon and evening. I am one of those people that just can’t relax until I have everything done. It’s a super annoying quality when I am trying to go to bed, but still have dishes in the sink. So, getting chores done in the morning frees me up to relax, AND then when I get one of my many social calls– for various galas, dinner parties, balls, etc. (or for real the very occasional barbeque with yard games and more frequently afternoon hikes/fishing trips with Brady) I am all set to go.

My General Daily Routine:

  • Work out
  • Breakfast (for myself and Teton)
  • Blog business (posts, editing, emails, etc.)
  • Nap (yes, I love a morning nap after my work out)
  • Yard work
  • House work
  • Random chores (pay bills, grocery shopping, etc.)
  • Lunch
  • Walk dogs
  • Relax and enjoy the rest of the day!

Yes, it may seem a bit boring and pretty laid back. But, it’s my vacation routine! And I love it.

Lists:

NotebooksLists, lists, lists. They are 100% necessary for me to remember to do anything! I am excessively into lists. I have a notebook where I list all of my blog business (the flower print notebook from Rifle Paper Company). Another notebook for my calendar where I list trips and weddings and write down my work outs (the map print planner is unfortunately no longer available, but here is another one of my favorite shops for planners on Etsy). And finally a notebook where I list all of my other things that I need to do—get gifts for upcoming celebrations, make a dentist appointment, and all other general adult-ish stuff (the Great Gatsby notebook from Barnes & Nobel). Granted, most normal people survive with just one notepad where they write down a ‘To-Do’ list. I am a little over the top. Especially when on vacation though, things just sneak up on me. I lose track of the days—which is serious the best feeling—and then have to rush to get everything done. At least if I have this kind of stuff written down I can try to avoid the last minute scramble.

Work Space:

Work SpaceFor when I really need to focus and get some work done, I head to my “work corner.” It is basically the same thing as an office, but for someone in their early twenties who rents a house the size of a postage stamp. Really, the important part is that it is an area where I keep everything that I need to get some work done. For me that includes all of my notebooks, my computer, my phone, my water bottle, a snack, some tea, and a blanket. Teton isn’t especially conducive to getting work done, but he usually hangs out with me too. Getting my work space all set up and settling in, allows me to focus and get into the right mind set to be productive. Many of you may have an office that is already perfect for this. However, for those of you who don’t try setting up your own little make-shift office. It may seem a bit silly, but it definitely helps me shift out of nap-mode (which I am usually in when I am in my living room) and into work-mode. Another important part of my work space is the lack of distractions—no TV, no texting, no online shopping. I am incredibly easy to distract so I don’t even play music. Just find what works for you and stick with it.

Cheers to being productive! Of course, my system may not totally work for you. But, if you have been struggling to find a way to motivate yourself on days off try out some of these tips.

Don’t be afraid to take a full day and just do nothing, as well.  We all need those days every so often.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

GRANOLA

Granola TopI can power through some serious granola. Honestly, I just snack on it mindlessly all day if I have it around. I consider it to be “healthy snacking,” until I finish an entire bag in one sitting. Yes, I realize that I may need to cut down on this for my fitness, but a more pressing concern of mine is the price. Granola can be surprisingly expensive. Especially because I get sucked in by every trendy-food-fad and gimmicky-marketing-trick out there. So, in order to cut down my granola expenses, I decided to make my own.

I tried quite a few recipes. This one is simple, cheap, and delicious. It’s absolutely perfect!

Ingredients*Recipe makes about 8 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups old fashioned oats

2 1/2 cups chopped almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. Add oats, almonds, cinnamon, and salt into a large bowl. Stir to combine.
  3. Add butter, oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla extract into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture up to a boil. Once, at a boil, reduce the temperature, so the mixture is at a simmer. Simmer mixture until sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove butter mixture from heat.  Pour over oat mixture.  Stir everything together.
  5. Grease a baking sheet. Once greased, spread the mixture evenly over the entire sheet.
  6. Bake for 25- 30 minutes. About every 10-15 minutes stir and toss the granola mixture.
  7. Allow granola to cool and move into a covered container for storage.

*You can easily buy pre-chopped almonds, but I have found that the whole ones are usually cheaper. So, I just buy them whole and then give them a rough chop. Of course, I have mentioned before that I really don’t mind chopping, as long as I have a glass of wine and Netflix.

*Cooking time may vary. I like to look for a slightly caramel-ish color, and you can smell the granola-y goodness when it’s finished. I know that is super, non-specific, and not very helpful, but once you make this you will see exactly what I mean.

This granola is a great with yogurt and/or fruit for breakfast. You can use it as an ice cream topping (seriously—it’s awesome and makes me feel a tiny bit better about the amount of ice cream I eat). It also makes a great, healthy snack, if you need something throughout the day—just practice a bit of self-control and don’t eat the entire batch.

This will definitely be my road trip snack when Stetson and I head to Tahoe this week. 15 hours? No problem.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TAHOE SUPPLIES

Very soon, my brother and I will be leaving to spend an entire week in Tahoe! This will be the first time visiting Tahoe for both of us. We are going to be participating (and by participating I mean: looking incredibly unathletic, but supporting a good cause and surviving enough to get a free beer) in the Tough Mudder there, then spending a few days camping on the lake and a few days backpacking through the Desolation Wilderness. Oh not to mention the 2 FULL days that will be dedicated to traveling (which is why I will also include a few of the books I am bringing). Some serious sibling bonding time.

BenchI have purchased a few new items to bring along for the trip.  Initially, I wanted to do a post about how to effectively pack for a backpacking trip, but seeing as this will be my first backpacking trip ever… I decided I may not quite be at expert level yet.  I am, however, an expert at online shopping for fancy outdoors gear! So, I will tell you about some of the things I picked up.

Disclaimer: By “fancy” I mean high-quality brands.  In general, I am all about using generic and cheaper brands whenever possible.  But, with outdoor gear I highly, highly recommend going with a proven brand.  They may be a bit more expensive, but the products will last forever.  Also, Amazon has some great deals on these brands if you do a bit of digging.

P BaggiesPatagonia Barely Baggies Shorts: So, I did buy these specifically for the Tahoe trip and camping by the lake. They will be perfect for being slipping on and off over my swimsuit AND I can hike in them when we go backpacking. But, I have been wearing them pretty much everywhere I go in town. My original excuse was to decide how comfortable (meaning I need to know if they would make my legs chaff!) they would be before the trip, but now I just love them. They look a little like a shirt that a grandpa would wear on a tropical vacation, and I am fully embracing it.

A River Runs Through It: Getting this book was pretty much a no-brainer. It’s light. It’s based in Montana. It’s about fishing. And I have never read it before… how did I let that happen?!

Prana 2PrAna Asha Shorts: Prana is one of my favorite brands. They don’t get as much recognition as some other brands, but their products are always very well made. And they probably fit the best out of all of my clothes. These shorts are awesome. They are grey, which is my absolute favorite color to wear, and they aren’t too short. These will also hold up incredibly well, when I am hiking and wearing them for multiple days in a row. Added bonus: they still look good, so in the future I can wear them all day fishing and then into the bar for a quick beer before heading home.

Shoes
Teton liked helping me test these out.

Patagonia Drifter A/C Waterproof Hiking Shoes: Surprisingly, this purchase was really hard for me to make– even though they were only $55 on Amazon and they are normally $120! I am ridiculously, and unashamedly attached to my Chacos. I have had them since I was 14 years old and I wear them every, single day from basically May to October. Literally. Even though they may look just a tad worn out… So, I wanted them to be the only shoes (aside from my tennis shoes for the Tough Mudder) that I brought to Tahoe. I am weirdly sentimental like that.  But, realistically I realized that there might be weather issues, or blister issues, or any other issue that may require me to wear different shoes at least one day. And this deal was just too good to pass up. I love Patagonia and living in Wyoming, Chacos just aren’t always an option.

Paper Towns: This book is one that I have heard quite a bit about lately because it is going to be made into a movie. Now, usually my little inner hipster actively chooses not to read Young Adult novels that are going to be made into movies. I mean, I have yet to read The Fault in Our Stars… I’m so not-main-stream. But, this does sound like a really fun read to me, and then when the movie comes out I can be all pretentious and complain about how much they changed the movie compared to the book. Score!

Teton pantsPatagonia Quandary Pants: I have discovered that no matter the weather, a well-made pair of hiking pants is always a good move. These will wick water, aren’t too hot, and they still look decent! My legs tend to get pretty scratched and banged up on longer hikes, so I am assuming with backpacking that will be even more extreme. I mean honestly my legs look like I am unbelievably hardcore and have had a few knee surgeries. Really though most of the scars are from everyday scratches and shaving. So, these will help to at least reduce the amount of new scars on my legs.

Into The Wild: Classic re-read for this trip. To be blunt, I don’t think this needs a whole lot of explanation. But, I am incredibly excited to have my own copy, finally. Don’t worry though, Stetson and I aren’t planning to go totally off the grid, by any means. Anyone who hasn’t read this should definitely consider it for this summer.

I was already excited for Tahoe, but getting all of this gear has made me even more jacked. Of course, I definitely suggest trying any new items you may get before a trip. These ones have all held up to my in-Laramie testing—they survived trips to the grocery store, to Happy Hour, and on walks with the dogs. All the essentials.  But, I will be sure to update you after Tahoe, as well.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TURTLE ROCK HIKE

Just taking in the view.  Try to spot me!
Just taking in the view. Try to spot me!

FINALLY I was able to get the first hike of the season under my belt! Brady and I were able to make a quick trip one afternoon this week. It has been absolutely beautiful here and we took off from work for the afternoon, so naturally we had to fit in a hike. We went on the Turtle Rock trail, which is a very well known hike near Laramie, but I have lived here for 5 years now and had never done it! So, this was the perfect time to check it off of my ‘Summer To-Explore’ list.

ViewThe Turtle Rock trailhead is off of Vedauwoo Road and is located in the Medicine Bow National Forest. The area is absolutely breathtaking; it is full of boulders that look like they were just plopped right out of the sky in the middle of this forest. Vedauwoo is an extremely popular spot just outside of Laramie; people go to rock climb, boulder, ride horses, trail run, bike, hike, or just sun tan on the rocks. But, there is so much space it is easy to remove yourself, so you don’t feel crowded. Even on the little 3 mile loop we were on we saw very few people, and it is one of the most popular hikes up there.

Me hiking
I loved having an excuse to wear my new Patagonia shorts.

Now, this was not only the first hike of the season, but also the first hike where Brady and I made an actual effort to get some pictures. Which, honestly, I thought would be really annoying, but I actually enjoyed it! Looking for good photo opportunities made me key in to how beautiful Vedauwoo is. And, I tend to be a bit competitive, and with most hikes I usually try to prove just how outdoorsy and athletic I am by speeding through it. I like to “win” the hike. Not really the point of hiking. So, slowing down to try and capture some of it was a very nice change of pace.

I love that this was a quick hike I could easily fit into a few hours. I mean there are days when I want to spend the entire day outdoors exploring and fishing and camping and fully embracing my inner wilderness woman. But, there are also definitely days when I want to be able to head out on a hike, take in some sights, then come home and watch Friends from my couch with Teton.

Brady just explaining to me about how General Stonewall Jackson would ride into battle with his hand in the air so the blood didn’t pool on one side… All I mentioned was that my fingers were getting swollen…

This was the most perfect way to spend the afternoon. We got some sun. We broke in our Chacos for the season. I made some incredibly witty comments, which Brady really appreciated, as usual. Brady explained some Civil War history, which I really appreciated, as usual. We got a little muddy. And most importantly we were able to just be outside and appreciate good ol’ Wyo!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

SUMMERTIME DRINKS

All SuppliesThere is something about warmer weather that just makes me appreciate a well-made drink even more. Don’t get me wrong: I definitely enjoy a good beer in the winter, as well. But, nothing says summer more than sitting on the patio drinking a beer and attempting keep Teton from jumping the fence to greet every dog that walks by my house. Ah, relaxation….

Now, I am a dark beer girl. That is my go-to drink basically no matter what time of the year it is. It’s just safe for me. If I don’t recognize a lot of the beers on a drink menu I will pick the darkest and know that I will enjoy it. Otherwise, if I guess, I usually end up not liking it (I swear I have a knack for accidentally picking IPAs!!- which I cannot stand) and have to trade drinks with Brady.

So, beer is my safety drink, and I have a few different varieties that I like to mix it up with in the summer. But, I also have a few mixed drinks that I like to sip on, particularly during the summer. And I thought I would share the recipes with you! I worked as a bartender in college, so I learned quite a few different drink recipes there, but all of the ones I stick to are very simple. I mean who has time to muddle fresh herbs and fruit? It’s backyard barbeque season– I’ve got a round of corn hole to win!

Moscow Mules:

We don't always go this fancy with our liquors, but we were really excited to ring in the summer, so we bought our favorites.
We don’t always go this fancy with our liquors, but we were really excited to ring in the summer, so we bought our favorites.

This is a summer staple for many people. Traditionally, they are made with vodka, but Brady and I both like them made just a bit differently. And, yes, it may seem over-the-top, but the copper cups are totally necessary. Brady and I received a set for Christmas and have absolutely loved having them. They make me feel extra fancy and just a bit more hardcore than I really am.

*We do not claim to have invented these recipes, by any means! There are just so many different names out there I decided to skip the stress of trying to pick the “correct” one.

Sydney’s Version:

My Version2 oz Gin

1/2 cup Ginger Beer

1/2 oz Sweetened Lime Juice

4 Fresh Lime Wedges

Directions: Combine all ingredients and fill the rest of the mug up with ice.

Brady’s Version:

B Version2 oz Rye Whiskey

1/2 cup Ginger Beer

1/2 oz Sweetened Lime Juice

4 Fresh Lime Wedges

Directions: Combine all ingredients and fill the rest of the mug up with ice.

*Honestly, I don’t measure out all of the ingredients.  I just eye ball it, and usually I am a bit on the heavy handed side… oh well… (Drinks are the only recipes that I don’t really measure, otherwise I need a recipe and those “oh, just throw in a tad of this and a dash of that” recipes drive me nuts!)

Red Wine Sangria:

SangriaAs far as drinking wine goes, I am definitely more of a red fan. But, in the summer I am usually looking for something a bit more refreshing. So, chopping up an insane amount of fruit and throwing it in the mix, seems to be the answer. The chopping is a bit time consuming, but—as I have mentioned before—that doesn’t bother me at all if I pop the Office or Parks and Recreation on in the background.

*This recipe I did actually invent using a few other recipes and lots of trial and error.  It is not a sweet as most sangria recipes, but that’s why I like it. With  sangria though, I just suggest using whatever wine and fruit suits your taste.  It’s hard to go wrong, I mean there’s no such thing as a “bad” batch of sangria.

Sydney’s Sangria:

1 Bottle Cabernet Sauvignon

2 Apples sliced

2 Peaches sliced

3 Apricots sliced

2 Limes sliced

1 Bottle Ginger Beer (I use this in place of sparkling wine– I’ve also used my favorite hard cider here and that is awesome, but this is what I had on hand)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and serve.

Summer Brews:

Dark beer is a year-rounder for me. So, usually when it somes to switching my beer up for summer, I just switch from bottles to cans. Cans are much easier to pack and even fit into my new Patagonia Sling Back Fishing Pack!

Moose DroolHowever, on the days when I am looking for something a little lighter I like to go with these brews:

Boddingtons- This is an English Pale Ale, and as strange as this may sound, it reminds me of a much darker beer.  It uses nitrogen, just like Guiness does, so it is very smooth.

Fat Tire- This is just an all around good Amber beer.  It’s not too heavy, so you can drink it all afternoon as you play yard games without having that bogged down, so full you can’t even toss a bean bag feeling. BONUS- I love New Belgium Brewery and it’s only about an hour from my house.

Lone Peak Raspberry Wheat- I am completely biased with this beer.  It comes from my FAVORITE brewery up in Big Sky, MT– Lone Peak Brewery (Big Sky is my “place,” so everything that is there automatically holds a special place in my heart and the owners are just the nicest and most fun people).  I only drink fruit beers in the summer, and I am pretty picky about them.  What I like most about this one is that it isn’t overpoweringly fruity. (If you can’t find this particular beer Shocktop Raspberry Wheat will do just fine.)

*And obviously, any new brews that they come up with at the local brewery! Summer is the best time to go on a little brew tour near your hometown.

These are perfect additions to all of the barbeques, family gathering, and porch sitting that happen over the next few months. Personally, I like them best when playing a couple rounds of gin rummy. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney