AFTERNOON EXPLORING

HJ ViewLately, it seems like I have been slacking on the ‘Adventure’ posts, or just getting out and exploring at all. I am back into the full swing of work, the weather is starting to get colder, and the evenings seem to be full of chores. Honestly, I have just been making lots of excuses about why I’m not getting outside to enjoy where I live.

But, I finally got out of my funk! Seriously, I didn’t realize how much I needed just a tiny little outdoor exploring until I actually got out there.

Each night Brady and I take our dogs on a quick walk right along a river that runs through Laramie. Which I guess means yes, I get outside to get some fresh air, but after going on the same exact walk night after night it gets to be a tad monotonous. So, we decided to head up to a nearby hiking trail right after we got off of work. Really, we were both starting to get the ‘I-need-some-outdoors-time-itch’ and decided we could kill two birds with one stone by taking Ellie and Teton with us.

But, as the work day wound down it looked like a storm was blowing in, and then we both got to talking about everything we needed to finish before tomorrow (grocery shopping, folding laundry, complaining about chores/work, washing dishes—you know the standard stuff). And it started to look like we were going to put off our little, mini hike yet again.

Thankfully, we bit the bullet and decided to load our ridiculously smelly dogs into the car and drive the 15 minutes to our hiking spot (yes, it is only a 15 minute drive and we were still making excuses about not having time…).

MeHJ BackBHJ TrailEllie HJIt was absolutely worth it. The leaves on all of the Aspens along the trail have changed. The weather was just cold enough that no one else was out there so we could let the dogs off their leashes (I was even able to take off Teton’s muzzle/Hannibal Lector mask because I didn’t have to worry about him chasing down any of those threatening children on bikes). The air smelled like fall. The dogs burned off all of their pent up energy. And we got a change of scenery.

Seriously, all of this from one measly, little half an hour jaunt in good ol’ Wyo.

Why do we not do this everyday?

Well, because we make excuses. And sometimes Netflix is just calling my name.

I am a big proponent of balance within your lifestyle, but my binge TV watching was starting to vastly outweigh my outdoors exploring—so, I’m glad I leveled that out just a teeny bit. Still a balancing work in progress…

I mentioned in my Letter to September that I wanted to make sure I didn’t get stuck in a non-adventure rut during these upcoming cold months. I think these short and sweet, after-work hikes may be just the ticket. I mean, let’s be real, here: I am a bit of a diva about the cold. So an all day trek deep into the Wyo wilderness to stand in a freezing cold river and hope to catch one fish, isn’t something I am going to jump to do every weekend. A few times: yes. But, only because I want a cool picture of me standing in a river with snow piled up on the bank and frost clinging to my eyelashes as I hold a monster trout… An hour walking with Brady and the dogs, though, is perfect.

Believe me, I hope as you are reading this you are snuggled up on your couch, with your favorite TV show in the background, a seasonal beer in your hand, and a belly full of chili (much like how I am writing this—minus the chili because it’s definitely one of those eat-any-and-all-leftovers-in-the-fridge kind of nights). Those nights are perfect and exactly what fall is designed for. However, make sure you make some time this week to get out in the fresh air wherever you live. Whether it is walking along your favorite path in town, or walking through a neighborhood full of houses you dream of owning, or walking in the woods, or walking downtown to window-shop: just get outside and avoid that cold weather funk. It will work wonders, I promise. It’s crazy, I only got half an hour of mountain air and was ready to take on writing this post, laundry, washing dishes, and I’ll still have time to watch a Friends episode or 4 before I hit the hay.

BHJ BackThanks for reading,

Sydney

LETTER TO SEPTEMBER

This is definitely not the most exciting picture for the month. But, I love it. It represents so many aspects of my life that I continually work to balance.
This is definitely not the most exciting picture for the month. But, I love it. It represents so many aspects of my life that I continually work to balance.  And they are all things I love: girly hand lotion, organizing notebooks, outdoor gear, tea, and Dr. Suess.

Dear September,

Thank you.

I was definitely ready for you… which is weird, because I was kind of dreading you coming as the end of August approached. But, I feel like that’s pretty normal. In fact, I would guess lots of people might feel that way. Letting go of August is like letting go of summer. And no matter how old I get, that is just hard to do. So maybe most people try to push you off for as long as possible.

Though once I let go, you make it so much easier. For me, you brought some stability and routine back into my life, without getting to that point where every day feels like the same grind. And I very much appreciate that. September always feels like a fresh start to me, even more than New Years. I think it’s just been engrained in me ever since I was very young. Each year when you would come around school would start with a brand new year, and I know my life still surrounds school, but I also think people who left the school grounds long ago feel that way. The leaves change and it feels like a new beginning– that’s a bit deep, but I am convinced it’s true. Plus, you had beautiful weather—chilly mornings that are perfect for drinking coffee, warm days that are perfect for an afternoon walk, and brisk evenings that are perfect for bundling up on the couch.

Anyways, you brought me back into a place where I feel comfortable and calm. I love routine, but the weekends still have a summer-esque feel. I’m making it a goal right now, not to lose that feeling. When you have passed and winter starts to edge out fall, it gets easy to get stuck in a rut. I won’t let that happen this year. I’ll still treat the weekends like the summer, albeit a much, much colder summer. But, I’ll make an effort to remember this feeling and keep my weekends active with outdoors activities.  I am hoping that will help keep me from getting stuck in that daily-grind-gloomy-mood.

Again, I just want to thank you, September. I may have dreaded you at the start, but you treated me very well.  You were exactly what I needed, even if I didn’t know it.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

FALL DRINK RECIPES

Fall came in like a ton of bricks in good ol’ Laramie. One day it was unbearably hot and sunny, then the next thing I know I’m busting out my SmartWools and drinking my coffee as hot as I can take it. But, I’m totally alright with that. I love the fall. And, yes, I know that is what everyone says and it makes me sound super “white girl” (#fall #leaves #pumpkinspicelatte *coffee emoji*– for the record I do not like pumpkin spice lattes). I look forward to crewneck sweatshirts for game days, making homemade soups in the crock pot so I can smell it all day, and scarves so big they double as blankets. I will admit it’s a tad cliché. But, I think if lots of people generally love something and there is a time of year that people look forward to, that just makes fall an awesome season—not cliché.

Both drinksAnother great thing about fall: new drink recipes! Summer was the season for Moscow Mules of all sorts. Now, for the fall I am feeling red wines and seasonal beers. Mostly, on their own, but on the occasion when I am feeling extra fancy I like to bust out these recipes.

Fall Sangria

SangriaIngredients:

1bottle red wine (I go cheap and dry—there should totally be a ‘cheap and dry’ joke here, but I’m failing miserably!)

1 cup Fireball whiskey

1 mango

2 peaches

Sangria IDirections:

  1. Chop fruit into cubes. I did not peel the mango, just because I like to eat it that way, but I know some people prefer to have it peeled.
  2. Throw everything together, mix, and enjoy!

*This is also something that is super versatile. Mangoes were on sale at the store this time, but next time I think I will swap it out for an apple.

Cinnamon Pumpkin Ale

PA tailIngredients:

3 bottles of your pumpkin ale of choice

1/2 bottle sparkling cider

4 cinnamon sticks

1 lemon (cut into 4 wedges)

dash of cinnamon

Pumpkin ale IDirections:

  1. Split the beers evenly into four glasses.
  2. Add a cinnamon stick and lemon wedge (squeeze first) to each glass.
  3. Top off the glass with sparkling cider.
  4. Add a dash of cinnamon to the foam and enjoy!

*The amount of times I said “pumpkin ale” was giving me serious Friends (when Mike and Ross try to hang out) and New Girl (when Jess is dating Paul and he comes to Thanksgiving) flashbacks.  In case you aren’t familiar with those shows– they sound just as pretentious when they say it, as I do.

These recipes are really fun when you want to spice up a fall night. The sangria is a great make-ahead drink for big groups of people (or if you are like me and just want to make the sangria for yourself and your dog and save one glass for Brady…). The beer cocktail is probably my favorite, but it is harder to make ahead because of the fizzy issue. Also, you need to drink quite a few, so you don’t waste the sparkling cider by letting it go flat. Personally, I saw that as a plus to this recipe, but I’ll leave it up to your discretion.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

SEPTEMBER BOXYCHARM

Sept BCAnother month, another BoxyCharm. Now, I mentioned in my last BoxyCharm post that I was debating on whether to keep my subscription or not. I did some seriously nerdy ‘beauty math’ and figured out that I was saving literally hundreds of dollars, so it’s definitely not that I am unhappy with the value or company. But, I am just getting so much stuff. I am a major fan of minimal clutter. And having 3 versions of products, that essentially do the same thing, is just not my style. So, I did decide (before I even received the September box or knew what would be in it) that this would be my last box, for a while. I still love the whole subscription box fad, and will be sharing a new box with you in October.

Of course, paying $21 and receiving $132 worth of products is going to be ridiculously hard to beat. I mean, seriously, BoxyCharm has to be the best bang for your buck subscription box out there.

SCRATCH NAIL WRAPS in “Lacework”

Nail WrapsOkay, there were a few people seriously upset when BoxyCharm let out a sneak peak to say we would be getting nailwraps this month. Yes, it is true that these are cheaper than most other products we receive, seeing as they are $12. But, I was super jacked! I love having painted nails, but I hate painting my nails. Every single time, I smudge at least one while it is drying, and then I try to touch it up and it ends up extra thick and lumpy. Plus, I am messy, like a little kid finger-painting messy. And the extra paint that I get around the nail and on the cuticles doesn’t really come off until I have taken a nice long shower.  Given how long I like to go between hair washes, most of my showers are about 3 minutes long, just to wash my body, so I’m stuck with the extra paint.

All of that considered, I liked everything about this product. It did take me a few tries to really get the hang of applying these, but it wasn’t the disaster it could have been. Now, my biggest concern would have to be wear time. I haven’t had these on long enough to attest to their long-wear ability, but I am hard on my nails and I want my polish to stay for at least a week. My hopes are pretty high, though. This product was extra fun to get in the box, because it is absolutely something I will use, but it’s also something that I don’t really think to purchase for myself.

PREVISE SKINCARE HYDROMILK HYDRATING LOTION

Previse LotionIt was almost like the BoxyCharm fairies knew this would be my last box for some time, and put this product right in for me! We have received a skin care item from Previse before, which was phenomenal (the Previse Nutrify Universal Tonic). And I ran out of it… literally last week. While I liked it, I have another serum that I prefer, but I knew I liked the brand—they use super high quality ingredients, and they work well with sensitive skin. Plus, I had been trying out a few different nighttime moisturizers without much luck. My skin is very dry, so I need something really hydrating, but I don’t like to feel sticky or oily.

This lotion works wonders. It doesn’t break me out, which is my first and most important requirement. It moisturizes my skin, so I don’t wake up with dry patches or flaky skin. And it absorbs into my skin speedy quick, so I don’t have that gross residuey feeling. Now, with it being $48, I am going to need to see the long-term effects (for that price, I’m looking to help reduce my dark spots/acne scars… and to have people mistake me for Blake Lively), before I decide whether I will purchase it on my own.

VASANTI PROFESSIONAL FOUNDATION BRUSH

Foundation BrushI had mixed feelings about this product: I love getting brushes in this box and the other Vasanti brush that we have received it one of my new, all-time faves, but I don’t usually use foundation brushes. I tend to go the more lazy/less brushes to wash route and just apply my foundation with my fingers. If I am feeling extra fancy, I will press it in with my Real Techniques Complexion Sponge (cheaper Beauty Blender). However, this brush retails for $32, so I figured it would be a waste not to try it out. The brush is nice and soft to the touch, but firm enough to apply the product where you want it. It provides a bit more of a full-coverage look, so it is probably something I will use for all of the many fancy and formal events I attend.

TARTE SMOLDEREYES AMAZONIAN CLAY WATERPROOF LINER in “Gold”

Tarte LinerI was unbelievably excited that I received another tarte product! Tarte is a well-known, high-end brand, and for good reason. This liner works perfectly with my make-up style. I rarely wear eye shadow, but if I am feeling fun (or not running late) I will pop in a crease shade, smoke out my lower lash line, and add a quick browbone highlight. Of course, with only those three things going on I need to be careful to use a subtle shade on my lash line. Otherwise, I look like a junior high girl who is still learning how to apply eyeliner.

But, this is foolproof. It’s a beautiful bronzy color. It has a precise tip, but is still thick enough to make an impact with just one swipe. The liner is waterproof, which means it’s super long lasting and it doesn’t budge (or run down your face, making you look like someone being chased out of the shower in a horror movie) all day. This retails for $22. Personally, this is a product that I would be willing to spend that kind of money on, but it totally depends on your make-up style.

CHELLA EYEBROW DEFINING GEL

ChellaBrows are in… I get it. We have received quite a few brow products in the past few months. And really there isn’t a ton to say about this. I’ve tried it out. I like it. It keeps my eyebrow hairs in place, which helps keep me from having those crazy-old-man-brows. But, the hold isn’t too intense, where it feels like there is cement on my eyebrows.  This is $18, which is pretty darn steep for the amount of product you get. It is a ‘full-size’ product, but to me it seems to be more travel size.  I like this for no-make-up days, but I still prefer my Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel. It’s a few more dollars, but you get more product, it’s tinted—so it’s one step, and it just works better.

KARDASHIAN BEAUTY BLACK SEED DRY OIL

Kardashian OilWe got a bonus item! This is an oil designed to use in your hair when it’s damp. So far, I have only used it once, but I really like it. It makes my hair feel extra soft once it dries, and it keeps my frizziness to a slightly more manageable level. We received the travel size (it didn’t come with a price, but I found it on Amazon for about $3– the full-size product can be found at Ulta for $16.50).

This is something that I will use up, appreciate it while I have it, and then move on without repurchasing. I love hair oils and I have quite a few at the drugstore that I will go back to once this is gone. I mean unless my hair starts looking like I have my own reality TV show… if that happens I may be forced to purchase the full-size.

***

So, this box fell in the same pattern as most of my other BoxyCharms: I loved a couple products, liked a couple products, and won’t really use a couple products. I will say, I am a little nervous to switch subscription boxes. BoxyCharm has been super good to me. But, I think that trying out something new will be extra fun. It seems to me, that with any subscription box, after a long enough time you may need to switch it up or it begins to feel redundant. I am pretty positive I will return to BoxyCharm sometime in the future. But, for now I need a bit of change (which is unbelievably rare for my overly-stressed-type-A-personality).

Be sure to stay tuned for my newest subscription box next month. I can’t wait!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

 

BOOK REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

A few weeks ago my brother recommended I read A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson. Now up to that point, I had only read one other hiking memoir, and that was with him while we were backpacking in Tahoe. While it’s true that I had enjoyed our reading on the trail, I figured that was mostly due to the fact that there is pretty much nothing else to do and I was in a very hike-appreciative state of mind. In general, I didn’t think books about hiking were really my cup of tea. I was pretty sure I only liked that one because it made my complaints on the trail seem more valid if someone wrote an entire book including similar complaints. So, naturally I said I was going to read it as soon as I got a chance and promptly forgot all about it.

One night, I finished the current book I was reading, and I still needed something to help me fall asleep. A book about walking for miles and miles on end sounded like it would definitely do the trick!

Except… I actually ended up loving the book. For real loving it, not just help-me-fall-asleep loving it.

Love:

The biggest draw for me with the book, and the biggest reason why I recommend it, would have to be Bill Bryson’s writing style. Reading books about hiking can tend to feel a bit like being on an extended hike itself—it gets to be a little (or a lot) monotonous after a while. Really though, it takes a pretty gifted writer to talk about literally walking and walking and more walking for hundreds of pages without it getting boring.

I couldn’t do it. I wrote three short posts on a backpacking trip and I seriously struggled. Of course, while I was hiking I felt like I was just gathering loads of material I could write pages and pages on. However, once I was home I realized that most of that material was only interesting to someone who had already been hiking for hours and was in serious need of more food.

Bryson, however, pulls it off wonderfully. He keeps the tone light and manages to make his discomfort on the trail endearing and funny, rather than whiny. Lots of books in this genre (again I’ve read two, so I’m not quite an expert, but I am an avid skimmer of books before reading them which gives me a pretty good idea) tend to feel a bit preachy, or find-yourself-ish. For lack of a better term: hippy-dippy-bologna. And I even have some seriously hippy-dippy traits of my own; I just made my own deodorant for goodness sake! So, no judgement here, but not my style of book to read.

I did notice that while you and one a backpacking trip—even a short one like I did—your mind has so much time to wander you naturally end up thinking about some bigger or more existential things than you normally would. And there is nothing wrong with that, at all. In fact, I definitely enjoyed that aspect of my hiking. It took my focus off of how much I absolutely despised my pack and every, single ounce that was in it for a short while. But, that’s not necessarily the type of thing that I am inclined to read about.

This book covered some of those “trail realizations” that Bryson and his hiking buddy Katz came to, but didn’t overdue it. The author wasn’t one of those “love every, single step you take while hiking” kind of people—in any way, shape, or form. And that helped make him super relatable. You are rooting for him and his hiking partner the entire time, because they are just normal guys out there on the trial. They learn about themselves and definitely grow, but they aren’t taking themselves or what they are doing too seriously.

*Side Note: My brother, who has read a lot more of these kinds of books than I have, was thrilled that he found a book like this with a male author. He has read several different books, including the one that we read together, like this written by women. And he definitely enjoyed them, but there is a slight tendency with this kind of writing to get a little girl-power-y (even for my taste, as a girl). So, if you are someone who likes this genre, but is looking for a little different take on the subject, this is the book for you.

Not So Thrilled About:

There were a few sections throughout the story that lost a bit of my attention. Bryson covers some science about the plant and animal life on the trail, that I just couldn’t get into. His writing style did make it less ridiculously boring, but I still ended up skimming quite large chunks in those sections. Also, he covered some of the history of the Appalachian Trail and the Forest Service. That was slightly more interesting to me, but I still found myself trying to force myself ahead and back into the account of their actual hike.

Do not let this deter you, though. The interesting and comical parts in this book seriously outweigh the more academic and scientific parts.

Check It Out:

A movie based off of this book is out in theaters right now! I haven’t seen it yet, but it is definitely on my list. I can’t wait to see how they are going to put the story together and to see some of the minor characters (mostly unbelievably annoying trail tag-alongs) brought to life. Of course, I will do my best not to be one of those pretentious “I read the book first, and they messed up this detail and that detail and this character trait and that blah, blah, blah…” viewers. I just hope I go and enjoy the movie as much as I did the book.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

OUR BODIES KICK BUTT

BI 2This 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…

I’m going to be talking about body image—and more specifically being happy with your body. Now, I am a decently health-conscious person. I grew up with incredibly healthy (and at times much too dedicated for my taste) eating and exercising habits modeled for me. So, I would say I have a nice healthy base to build from. But that, in no way, shape, or form means I am immune to body image issues. And I know that I am not alone.

*Disclaimer- This absolutely not a gender specific post! I love me some girl power, but what I’m writing about here is not solely for the females. I feel like most body image related posts are geared towards women, but that isn’t the case here. I will still make some witty comments that could give both genders a nice chuckle.

Quit weighing yourself:

I have heard this advice millions of times. Every magazine article, blog post, and Pinterest ‘fitspo’ mentions this. But, I totally thought I was above this advice. What I mean is: I would read this, I would acknowledge that ‘yes, for some people weighing in everyday could be counterproductive,’ and then I would assure myself that I was strictly checking my weight religiously ‘just to know’—of course, I wasn’t really putting any stock into the numbers I saw.

What actually turned me around on this was laziness. Yes, laziness was a major factor in improving my body image. Embrace the lazy! Basically, the batteries in my scale died and I kept forgetting to replace them. And, I am very proud/slightly ashamed to say: this went on for months. So, by the time my scale was up and running again, I had totally gotten out of the morning weigh in routine.

Then, everything fell into place, just like all of the articles had said it would. I noticed more about my actual body—where I was gaining muscles, where I was looking a little thinner, where I needed a whole lot of sunlight, all that kind of stuff.

Again, this is not groundbreaking advice. I did not make this up all on my own. This is probably the 178th or 179th time you have heard this, but maybe this is the time it will sink in. Seriously, give it a shot.

Focus on the work:

This is my take on the age-old advice to focus on a goal. I, like most other people, have that goal body I’m shooting for. And that’s great. Except, I find it pretty easy to put off goals; they are too abstract for me. Yes, I want my body to look a certain way, but I can easily convince myself that one piece of cake isn’t going to make or break it for me.

The fact is, changes with our bodies happen slowly. I’m not proud to say it, but if I don’t see those immediate results I have an incredibly difficult time using that as motivation. I know some people can do that, and major kudos to them. However, for me, the actual work is much easier to use as motivation.

Two things that help me here: routine and competing with myself. Getting up each morning (at the absolutely ridiculous hour of 5 am) and working out is part of my routine. If I get out of routine I feel unsettled and have mood swings that are pretty much on par with a 13-year-old girl. That alone at least motivates me to get my butt to the gym. Once I’m there I focus on each exercise—not necessarily about what it’s doing for my body (again, that’s too abstract for me to wrap my head around before I have even had a cup of coffee), more on what I was able to do yesterday. I want to at least beat what I did the day before. I treat it like a game. The exercises are my obstacles in the game, and I don’t allow my focus to shift any further than that.  Really that early in the morning my focus can pretty much only handle that one thing.

Appreciate what your body can do:

I am by no-means 100% happy with my body. In fact, some days I’m probably only 7% happy with my body, and other days I’m pretty sure I’m going to get my call from Tyra Banks to join America’s Next Top Model (I’m almost sure that show is no longer airing, but it had about 36 seasons, so I can’t get it out of my head).

On those 7% days, I look at my lineman-size shoulders and remember that they pulled my over-sized butt to the top of the Rims when I was learning to rock climb. I look at my only-take-pictures-with-your-hand-on-you-hips-to-avoid-bulk arms and remember that they carried Teton (who was definitely not a puppy, but a full-grown and misbehaving dog) all the way around park and home when he refused to quit chasing after squirrels/blowing leaves. I look at my less-than-rock-hard tummy and remember that I pounded my entire dinner and half of Brady’s before he even finished his story (hey, it’s strange what we all discover we are proud of). Then, I check out my definitely-touching-thighs and remember that they pushed me all the way through ‘The Death March’ on my first Tough Mudder.

There are still, and I’m sure always will be, days when I change outfits because the one I have on shows off too much of what I don’t want shown off. But, that’s okay. I am learning to pay more attention to all of the impressive feats my body is capable of, rather than focusing on what it looks like.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

CHACOS: WORTH THE SPLURGE?

DCIM100GOPRO

Let’s face it: outdoor gear is expensive. There’s really just no way around it. The whole illusion of that free-spirited drifter spending every waking minute in the mountains is pretty much shattered when you fill up your cart at REI and realize that you’ll need to sell your right arm and live off of potatoes for the next 3 months to afford it all. Of course, there are items you can definitely pass on. However, there are also items that are definitely worth the splurge.

So, I have generously decided that I will take on the burden of buying these exciting and expensive items, all in the name of helping you out. My shopping is really a selfless act, that I am willing to do for you and only you. You are welcome.

The first item that I am going to discuss is my pair of Chaco sandals. This is pretty fitting because these sandals were also my first on-my-own outdoor gear purchase.  Let’s see if I made a worthwhile decision.

ChacoPrice: about $95 and up– Granted, the prices do vary based on the retailer. There also may be sales offered or deals to be found (hello Zappos, Sierra Trading Post, or Amazon). But, in general, around $100 is what you can expect.

Function: Hiking, bar tending, cliff jumping, river floating, date nights, fishing, walking, biking—whatever you are planning, I have probably done it in Chacos. I seriously wear these things everywhere I go. Originally, I got my pair for a trip to DisneyWorld. My family takes DisneyWorld vacationing very seriously. So, there is lots of speed walking and dodging oncoming tourists involved, and I wanted to be prepared. Initially, these were my go-to outside shoe. I love to hike in them—they can go in water and will dry off much quicker than hiking boots, plus they are super comfortable, once you get the straps set up. They are also perfect for a river floating day, because they protect your feet from rocks and you can cinch up the straps to ensure you won’t love your sandals.  Now, I use them for everything under the sun. Anytime I know I will be on my feet for a long time—and it’s socially acceptable to– I wear my Chacos. In college I was a bartender, which means I was on my feet from 5 pm to 2 am during a normal shift. I wore my Chacos basically any weather-permitting shift I could. Also, I am totally not above wearing these for date night. I like to pretend I’m sending out a ‘low-maintenance, fun, outdoors girl’ kind of vibe—but really, I’m just a creature of comfort.

Whether you want to use them as a strictly outdoor adventuring shoe or an everyday footwear option: Chacos do not disappoint.

Style: There are several different styles to pick from with your sandals: single strap, double straps, toe strap, back strap, slip on. Plenty of options. Personally, I own the double strap, with a toe strap. Mine also have the back strap. I really like that for times when I wear these as I walk through water to fish, or float down the river in a tube. I call it ‘strappin’ in,’ because I’m just that hardcore. I pull on the back strap and cinch everything tight, so they don’t fall off. Other than that, I tend to just slip these on, and leave the back strap down. This is all completely personal preference, but I do recommend the back strap, if you are going to be using these for more active adventures. There are also tons and tons of color options for you to pick from on the site. They have pre-designed sandals, that you can just pop in your cart and be good to go.  Which is perfect for the lazy/style-impaired shopper… like myself.  They also have an option where you can design your own sandals—this is just a bit more pricey, but you get the chance personalize your shoe.

Mine are one of the pre-designed pairs, that I got so long ago they are basically no-design now. Brady did the design your own option, and now he is the proud owner of the brightest size 13 Chacos you have even seen in your life—I mean, electric blue, neon yellow, then throw in some varying shades of green and a glow in the dark logo for good measure.

I will not claim to be the most stylish dresser by any means—if I’m not at work, it is pretty much t-shirt and jeans or work-out gear. Meaning, the Chacos go with just about whatever I wear. I’ve also been known to rock these with a maxi dress… it’s not necessarily a popular look according to some of my closest/most honest friends, but I like it. I even wore these to my mother’s rehearsal dinner…  and she still let me be in the wedding. Really, wear them however you like.

Repurchase: Here’s where it gets a bit tricky. Well, not tricky—phenomenal for the buyer actually. I have not repurchased any Chacos. Even though I highly, highly recommend them and mine are almost a decade old at this point.

It’s the strangest thing, but you get ridiculously attached to these sandals. Honestly, I can’t tell you the amount of times I have gone online, designed my perfect pair of Chaco sandals, gone almost all the way through check-out, and then gotten cold feet (foot joke—too much?). There is just something deep inside of me that feels like I would be betraying my original pair if I got new ones. Despite the fact, that I actually don’t like the color of mine (I got them right before I went into high school and my school colors were orange and black… I thought orange would be cool, except now they have– what I can only refer to lovingly as a– pukish hue, and I hardly own any orange clothing), and they look like I’ve put some seriously hard miles on them, I just can’t do it.

I wore these shoes on my first family trip where we had to wear matching t-shirts, I wore them on my first backpacking trip, I wore them the first time I went skydiving, I wore them the first time I got to see the Orioles play… This list of firsts could go on and on; I’ll spare you, but you get the idea. So, no: I haven’t found it in my heart to replace them yet. Luckily, I haven’t had the need to. Chaco offers re-soling and repairs for your sandals.  This is something I was forced to take advantage of when Teton, as a puppy, decided to chow straight through my straps because I had selfishly stopped watching him like a hawk for about 4 minutes. Thankfully, they fixed them up and I was set to go in just a few weeks.  Just in time for me to visit my parents and have Teton chew up my father’s pair, as well.  He also really appreciated the repair.

A new pair may be in my future. I am thinking that if I get a pair without the toe strap, I could wear them with SmartWool socks as my “Winter Chacos”  (hopefully that would be less of a betrayal to my original pair). I would like to be able to say, ‘obviously I would only wear this combo in my house, or on colder camping trips,’ but if I am being honest, I know I’ll wear it to the grocery store or to grab a coffee. There’s no shame in my Chaco game. But we will have to see if I can ever, finally pull the trigger and commit.

*I’m also loving some of the newer Chaco booties (especially this Hopi pair).  Those may be just a tad more fashion acceptable than my “Winter Chacos.”

Now, to answer the question: Worth the splurge? Uh, yes, yes YES. A thousand times, yes. These sandals work for so many different activities, they can be customized to fit your style, and they have the potential to be a one time purchase. You need these in your life.  That’s a bit of a pushy statement for my people-pleasing personality, but it is something I completely stand by.  I am very serious about my Chacos.  Go try them out!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

BACKPACKING ‘ESSENTIALS’

BE PackThis summer I went on my first backpacking trip, ever, with my brother (you can check it out in these three posts: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3). Which clearly means I am now an expert. So, I’m here to impart all of my knowledge on to you! Seriously though, I do feel like I’m qualified to write this post, because it does not take very long to realize what you desperately need and/or really, really wish you had with you when on a backpacking trip. especially if you are a creature of comfort like I am.

Of course, keep in mind that this is MountainGirlyGirl. Yes, there are some diva-esque items included in the list; feel free to roll your eyes and move on, if you need to.

  1. GOOD Nail polish

    This polish in 'bikini so teeny' held up like a real champ over the course of the trip.
    This polish in ‘bikini so teeny’ held up like a real champ over the course of the trip.

This is really for your pre-backpacking essentials.  But, believe me it is just as important as making sure you have your map and all of your food ready to go.  Well, maybe just a tad less important than that, but it’s still a big deal.  I love being a grublet, as Brady refers to it. I don’t mind staying out in the woods and foregoing a real shower or 6, or not brushing my hair for a week. But, I do still enjoy feeling a little feminine. So, having on nail polish, that I know will last, is incredibly important to me. I can be in full-on grublet mode with unwashed/unbrushed hair (the kind of hair that made Stets think it was necessary to let me know I could NOT write a post about cute backpacking hair), the same outfit from the day before, and no make-up, but still look down at my fat, swollen fingers and feel a bit girly.

  1. Camp Wine

Duh.

Beer is too hard to pack along. I guess, if you prefer whiskey or some other liquor, that would work too. Just something you can bring in a travel flask (boxed wine—the classiest of wines—can be easily transferred into a travel flask). Now, I was always too exhausted to have more than one glass, but I still really enjoyed it. It’s a little comfort from home that feels super fancy, even if you did just have to dig a hole to use the restroom.

  1. Tissues

This is actually a really practical solution for anyone who is interested in backpacking.   Those little travel packs of tissues are much easier to haul around than a roll of toilet paper. They are also less embarrassing to carry past other campsites in the area when you go on your morning bathroom trip than a package of wet wipes. Nothing looks more like “things are about to get real serious” than a package of wet wipes and a hand shovel. Plus, they fit really nicely in those hip pockets most packs have, which is really useful if you’re a girl and don’t want to do the whole drip, dry thing.

*You may feel like this was a bit too much information to share, but it’s all real backpacking business.  There’s not a whole lot of privacy.  At all.

  1. Sleeping Socks

Yes, socks are important for backpacking, but having a designated set of sleeping/lounging socks is icing on the cake. Now, I personally can’t sleep in socks (or even pants—the lower half of my body may be freezing cold and I’ll sleep through it, but as soon as those stupid pajama pants get twisted I’m up for the entire night), but I do use them right up until I am about to drift off. I live in SmartWool socks basically from September through May. I’m addicted. So, I was sure to bring my favorite, thickest pair along on my trip. There is just some sort of reaction in my body as soon as those socks went on—it was like a trigger telling me I could finally rest for the day. Again, bring all of the hiking socks along that you need, but make sure you keep your extra special and comfy set separate.

  1. Book/Travel Journal

Honestly I found that I prefer to have both of these items with me. They can be a bit bulky, but it was worth it to have something to unwind with after a day of hiking. And being willing to take that extra weight is saying a lot, because  by the end of each day I pretty much hated my pack with every fiber of my being. Stetson and I read Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts out loud each night as we got ready to hit the hay. Honestly, I love talking to my brother—he’s dealt with me for the longest amount of time so he understands my sense of humor, let’s me know when I’m being a bit of a b—-, and has been my go-to for anything I want to learn more about as far as adventuring goes. But, by the end of a day filled with nothing but walking and talking, a reading break is much needed. For the same reason, one thing that I didn’t bring on my trip, and definitely want to bring next time, is a journal. Weirdly enough, despite having this blog, I don’t really consider myself to be a “writer.” However, after we finished our trip it was crazy to see how quickly you forget the details of each day. I do have the posts that I put up on the blog detailing our trek, but having a quick entry in a travel journal reflecting on the day as I sit exhausted at the campsite would be so much more entertaining. I still had some serious sass when I looked back on the trip in my posts, but I know in the moment my account would have been much more dramatic and witty.

Give my suggestions here a try. “Essential” may be a stretch for most of these items, but I think bringing a bit of lightweight home comfort makes backpacking even more enjoyable. And believe me, I cut this down—I traveled with mascara convinced that I would be including on this post because I’m such a mascara junkie, but I didn’t even use it once. So, test it out. Find your “essentials” and don’t be embarrassed by them. It’s true painting your nails may not be on everyone’s ‘Prepare for Backpacking’ checklist, but it’s on mine. And I’m pretty sure the lilac nails made me faster on the switchbacks.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

BEST PANCAKE RECIPE

Ok, this is a Pinterest recipe that I have been messing around with and changing for a while now. Then, last week I finally had someone, beside myself or Brady, to use to test the recipe. And he claimed that they were some of the favorite pancakes that he has eaten! Ever. Granted, he could have completely just been being polite, but it went straight to my head and I decided this recipe is officially up to snuff to be shared with you. (He even requested to have this put up so he– or more his wife– could have this recipe.  I’m telling you, any sort of compliment immediately makes my head swell.)

Pancake ingredientsIngredients:

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp vegetable oil

3/4 cup honey Greek yogurt

3/4 cup skim milk

*The original recipe that I was working off of used plain yogurt, then added sugar and vanilla extract. I found that it was a bit sweet for me when I went that route. So, I swapped in honey yogurt. I like it much better this way and it makes it just a bit healthier.

Directions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt) in a medium bowl.
  2. Mix eggs, oil, and yogurt into the dry mixture. Stir until completely combined.
  3. Add milk to the batter. Stir until you have your desired consistency (I like just a few lumps).

And that is all you need to do before you have the world’s best pancake batter!

Plain pancake

This time, I decided to top mine with some peanut butter and bananas.  It was delicious.  But, I have also gone the original butter and syrup route, and even tried some homemade peach jam (courtesy of Brady's mom--I definitely did not make that) as a topping.
This time, I decided to top mine with some peanut butter and bananas. It was delicious. But, I have also gone with the original butter and syrup, and even tried some homemade peach jam (courtesy of Brady’s mom–I definitely did not make that) as a topping.

Breakfast for dinner is something that I have just recently realized is absolutely life changing. I know: I was way behind jumping on the bandwagon. But, now I finally see what all the fuss was about.

The nice part is that this recipe serves about 4, so if it’s just Brady and myself having dinner we can save half the batter for the next night. In fact, on our last camping trip we took the leftovers and were able to have some delicious camp pancakes before packing up. Which is much more relaxing than scarfing down some sort of granola bar as you attempt to gather all of your things.

By no means are these a “health food,” but they definitely are a healthy improvement from just regular pancake batter. Try this recipe out, and then experiment with it on your own. I’m thinking of trying it with coconut yogurt or adding in some fresh chopped peaches next time. Don’t try to tell me I play it safe.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney