LETTER TO OCTOBER

Notre Dame was hands down my favorite this month.
Notre Dame was hands down my favorite this month.

Dear October,

You were a real champion! July was filled with family. August was a whirlwind.  September got me back on track.  But, you finally helped me find that balance between my love of routine and having some fun again.

I’m a creature of habit, and I almost can’t function without a routine.  I’m okay with that.  I know that about myself and I’ve accepted it as part of my personality.  Sometimes I get some well-meaning reminders from those closest to me that it’s not necessarily the easiest part of my personality to deal with.  But, it’s there.

During September I fully embraced (well, really clung to for dear life) being back in my routine.  And as crazy as it feels for me to say this: I maybe, just maybe, embraced it a bit too much.  October, you helped me break out of that.  You brought me new experiences.  You brought me closer to friends.  You brought me opportunities to speak up for myself.  You brought me time to enjoy the fall.  Basically, you really just brought it this month, and I very much appreciate that.

Okay October, maybe you weren’t perfect.  I spent a heck of a lot more money than I should have.  I found 3 more grey hairs (yes, I am only 23!!).  I found out my brother will be moving across the country in January.  And Teton shattered my window by running straight into it like an NFL lineman.

Thankfully, you at least brought a silver lining with all of those things.  Now, I have a real camera, so my pictures on here will no longer look like a junior high kid selfie.  I used the hairs as validation for booking an overpriced hair cut and color.  Stetson will absolutely kill it in his new city and with his new job– like for real be the best ever– and it’s time I shared him with more than just Wyoming (plus I’ll get to visit San Fran!).  And… well… there’s no silver lining with the window, but that’s just how it is sometimes.

Given my high-strung, type A personality and the challenges that come with balancing multiple families during the holiday season I desperately needed a fun, yet productive, month as I head into November, and you were exactly that October.  Thank goodness. Bring on the holiday season and all the excitement/stress/planning/eating that comes along with it.  I’m ready!

My tendency with these letters, and all posts I guess, is to want to ramble on and on.  But, I’ll I need to remember the importance of keeping it simple.  October, you were phenomenal.

Thanks fore reading,

Sydney

GETTING SKUNKED

BSnowJust your resident Expert On Absolutely Nothing here, to talk about yet another fishing adventure, without any fish. I still call it a fishing adventure then? I’m not sure. More like a sloshing through the freezing October water adventure. Don’t forget: this blog really likes to emphasize that “whole lot of trying” bit.

Luckily, as I was casting and casting and recasting and recasting I had plenty of time to contemplate exactly how I wanted to do my write up on our trip. Initially, I was outlining the basic “didn’t-catch-anything-but-enjoyed-being-outside-and-the people-I-was-with-blah-blah-blahhh” post, in my head. Unfortunately, it felt like I’ve already done my fair share of those kind of posts. Let’s face it, I have a lot of experience not catching fish.

So, instead my mind began to wander, as it tends to do while fishing, and I found what I was thinking to myself to be far more entertaining. Which is why I’ve decided to share it with you!

Of course, this is geared a bit more towards those newer to fly fishing like me (yes, it’s been almost a year, but I still totally consider myself to be ‘new’ and will for quite a bit more time). However, I think some of these thoughts (well, maybe not these exact thought, but something similar) may sneak into even the most experience fly fisher from time to time.

Things you say while you’re not catching fish:

  • Man, it is gorgeous out today.
  • I cannot believe the sky is this blue.
  • Really, can you imagine people are stuck working right now?
  • This spot would have been perfect just a few days earlier.
  • Oh, I totally thought that was going to be the run to catch one.

Things you think while you’re not catching fish:

  • I’ve spent an unreal amount of time tying flies on today. Really, tying flies onto my line is like some sort of intricate friendship bracelet between myself and this fly. I want us to be a team and stay together forever (or until I catch 13-14 fish).
  • I guess thinking about me making a friendship bracelet with a fake fly is slightly less embarrassing than thinking about grown men making a friendship bracelet.
  • The way people talk about fly fishing is super weird.  Saying a river looks like chocolate milk or that a fly is sexy? Uh, really? Why do I get sucked into that? I just feel so trendy and cool using terms I don’t really get for things I don’t fully understand.
  • Waders are never flattering.
  • Would I even be possible to explain fly fishing to an alien? ‘Uh, yeah we put on waterproof pants– that aren’t flattering on anyone—clomp through rivers to sling fake flies tied to a clear line back and forth until we lay it in the perfect spot and hope that a fish tries to eat it.  Then, we “set” the hook by moving our arms so we resemble the Statue of Liberty. Next, we grab some scissor-looking-things to pop the fly out and release the fish back into the water. And we do it over and over again until we are so hungry we can barely stand.’
  • Oh my goodness, that sounds insane when you put it that way.
  • Why do I do this again? Oh yeah, yeah, fish are beautiful and it’s such a rush. (But how beautiful are fish really? I mean, they can have some cool patterns and stuff, but I never look at a fish face-to-face and think ‘man, that’s a pretty specimen.’ A fish is still a creepy-looking-swimmy-dinosaur-ish thing to me.)
  • Those patterns are cool though. I should get those trout patterned nail wraps I saw that one time on Instagram! Then, if I ever do catch one of those creepy things we could match.
  • I definitely should have brought a snack. Why on earth do I never think to throw one in my pack? Really, all that’s in there right now are those stupid little, plastic, containers you get when you buy flies. Lots of those. I should clean out my pack.

Things you can attempt so you actually catch fish:

  • Research- This is the biggest one. It’s easy to fall into fishing the same spots with the same flies. Well, your favorite spots are tried and true, I’m sure. But, especially as the weather changes, it is important to check out spots that may be more active in the colder temperatures.       There are also times when certain fish may be more active due to spawning and such. Lots of fly shops are beginning to update websites with little snippets of this info. Also, it never hurts to ask as you are in picking up flies and other supplies.
  • Keep your pack stocked- I am absolutely terrible, terrible, terrible about this! I’m trying to get better, even though I still depend on what Brady has in his pack a good 95% of the time. Keep the basics such as tippet, leader, and your standby flies always fully ready to go. Then, be sure to grab any extras you may need the day before you plan to take off for your trip. This will help you to get a little more planning time and take into account any new tips you may have received at the fly shop.       I also highly recommend going early, because every time I save it for the day of I convince myself that I don’t really need to make the stop and then regret it when I’m trying to make due with inadequate supplies. (At least that is one thing I can use as an excuse for not catching a fish.)
  • Remember that feeling that comes after a successful trip- It is so easy to get discouraged as the day goes on and you are just getting absolutely zero action. It’s usually at this point where my mind begins to wander into that “why do I even do this/would this make sense to aliens?” place and it’s easy to get sucked into that negativity. But, just think back to that feeling of actually setting the hook and being able to land that fish that’s been eyeing your fly for the past 7 casts. It’s 100% indescribable, but it makes all the fuss 100% worth it.
We did try moving to a bit lower elevation, and still didn't have any luck. Brady's brother, Spencer, had a fish on at this spot, but it popped off before he could land it.
We did try moving to a bit lower elevation, and still didn’t have any luck. Brady’s brother, Spencer, had a fish on at this spot, but it popped off before he could land it.

***

I would love to hear about some of your mind-wandering fishing thoughts, so I can feel a little less crazy about mine. Also, what are some of your best tips to avoid those skunked fishing trips?

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

FALL ESSENTIALS

Fall weather has finally hit Wyoming!  And thankfully this year we are actually having a fall; most years we like to go straight from summer to freeze-your-arse-off-winter in the matter of about 4 days.  But, I am incredibly happy to say: Laramie is beautiful in the fall.  The streets are absolutely lined with gold all up and down each side as the leaves change colors.  Which is pretty fitting as the University of Wyoming’s colors are brown and gold.  Usually we just see the brown as the snow gets dirtier and muddier. But, this year we are getting the gold.

But, this lovely fall weather does mean that I need to trade a few of my summer staples for some more fall-appropriate items.  Below is my list of essential fall items.  Now, I do have a “Fall Wishlist” in mind, but that is something completely different (and there will probably be a post on it later– for the purpose of helping you check out some cool new items AND hinting at what I would like for gifts from my friends and family who read this).  For your benefit, all of the items listed below are tried and true and 100% necessary.

Fall essentials

Beer Essential- New Belgium Pumpkick

Ok, I may not like Pumpkin Spice Lattes, but I am a sucker for pumpkin beers.  And this one is brewed just about an hour away from my house, so I’m a bit biased.  I’m not a big fan of super pumpkin-y flavor in my drinks, which is exactly why I like this one so much.  You can taste the pumpkin, but it’s not overpowering.  In my expert opinion (meaning I like to drink a lot of seasonal beer with Teton at my house) you get more of this spice– nutmeg and cinnamon– than the pumpkin flavor.

If you are not a fan of beer at all try out the Woodchuck’s Granny Smith Hard Cider.  It’s crisp and refreshing and still gives you that fall-apple-cider-y feel .  But, it’s not quite as sweet as other hard ciders, like Red’s or Angry Orchard.

Outdoor Gear Essential- Simms Fishing Gloves

Okay, this is one that I really thought I could live without.  I mean, gloves that only cover half of your hand?  How effective could these be?  Uh, very effective is the answer.  Especially if  you are a diva like me about cold hands in the chillier weather.  These help a ton.  They continue to work even after getting wet, and they have an easy on/off flap for you fingers.  For the amount of fish I catch (ahem… attempt to catch…) they are definitely essential.

Simms (and other fishing brands) come out with new versions of these each season.  Just check out whichever ones look like they would be more comfortable for you.

So far, this has not made me catch more fish, but I’m pretty sure that will come soon.  Even though these are technically Brady’s– I’m sure he’s willing to share in exchange for less whining from me.

Girly Essential- Colourpop blush in ‘Between the Sheets’

This is hands down the perfect fall blush.  It’s that dusty rose/mauvy color that is so fitting for this season.  It looks good on all types of skin tones.  I like to use this along with gobs of mascara for my daily make-up look.  Plus, Colourpop is ridiculously affordable.  There honestly is no down side here.

I also love, love, love the Lumiere Lippie Stix, if you feel so inclined as to add that to your collection, as well.

Clothing Essential- Patagonia Better Sweater Full-Zip

This is my favorite jacket for the fall.  It’s kind of a crossover between a sweatshirt and a jacket.  It’s thick enough to keep you warm, but it’s not bulky.  That also makes it work absolutely wonderful for layering under other coats.  Wyoming is made for layering, so this is very important to me.

The one that I’m wearing in the above picture (where I am authentically laughing at something incredibly entertaining as I casually stand in my yard next to a beer and a cider strategically holding a novel while wearing fishing gloves) I got from eBay a few years ago.  To date, it has been my one and only eBay purchase and I am thrilled with it.  Quit while you’re ahead, right? It holds up well in the cold, doesn’t look run down, and doesn’t pill.  If you do some snooping around on various sites you can usually find a good deal.  Mine is grey, because I’m boring and love it, but there are also tons of colors offered on the Patagonia website.

Bundling Essential- Into the Wild

Deep, deep down in my soul I’m a bundler.  I would love to spend each and every evening wrapped up in my favorite blanket drinking tea and reading or watching a movie.  Literally, every evening.  I’m one of those people that keeps my house cold enough, that a sweatshirt and wool socks are necessary as soon as you walk in the door.

There are certain books or movies that I associate with different seasons.  Into the Wild totally has a fall feel for me.  I think I’m drawn to one last outdoors escape before it gets too unbelievably cold.

***

Please, let me know what items you find essential for the cooler weather.  I love to add to my collection.  Now, don’t forget to get outside and enjoy the fall while its here!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

OCTOBER POPSUGAR MUST HAVE

PopSugarOctober So, I finally made the subscription box switch from my beloved BoxyCharm.  And I must say I had pretty darn high expectations, given how spoiled I had become with BoxyCharm.  But, really I was looking for a subscription box that had a few more lifestyle-type items, and just a bit more variety in the items in general (I have learned that even though I love make-up, my minimal-ish make-up everyday makes it a little difficult to justify having a beauty only subscription box come every month).

And after lots and lots of painstaking research I have decided to go with the…  PopSugar Must Have Subscription Box!

This box is more pricey than what I used to pay.  It costs $39.95 a month, which is pretty much double my BoxyCharm $21.  But, I did receive 7 full-sized items (with one sample-size item) and the overall value of the items in the box is just about $145.  Over $100 worth of products for $free.99? I’ll take it!

Why Not Me? by MINDY KALING ($15)

MKBookYes, yes, yes! I absolutely love Mindy Kaling.  Kelly was my girl as I watched The Office.  I mean, of course, I couldn’t stand the sound of her voice and watching her drool over Ryan was almost unbearable.  But, that was the best part! She is smart, funny, beautiful, and writes some incredibly witty stuff.  So, basically, she is me.  Except rich and famous and generally just more fabulous.

I have already read her first book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And I just love her style of writing.  She mixes in some serious lessons for empowering girls– while being hilarious and absolutely not preachy.  I cannot wait to get to work on Why Not Me?

BELGIAN BOYS DE STROOPWAFEL ($1.30)

Caramel CookieFood was sort of a new item for me when dealing with subscription boxes, but definitely not one I was going to turn down.  I love caramel, and waffles, and cookies… so really it was just winning all around.

Unfortunately, I was only sent 1 package which contained 2 cookies.  But you can buy them from the website linked above in a pack of 15 for $19.95.

THE HONEST COMPANY SEA SALT BODY SCRUB ($16.95)

HonestBodyScrubAlright, I had heard of The Honest Company.  I knew they made high quality items with natural ingredients.  But honestly (pun totally intended), I just thought that they made baby products.  Which left me a bit surprised when I saw this body scrub in the box.  It was a surprise I thoroughly enjoy, though.

I live in super-freezing, super-windy, super-suck-every-ounce-of-moisture-out-of-your-skin Wyoming.  So, I always need to exfoliate.  Usually, I do this in the shower with old coffee grounds (yes, much like an adorable and eccentric elderly lady, I refuse to throw out used coffee grounds before I have gotten every single, teeny, tiny bit of use out of them) in the shower.  And it makes a massive mess.  I am then forced to spend extra time in the shower trying to rinse the coffee grounds out of the tiling and shower curtain.  But, I can never do a completely perfect job, so I find coffee grounds for the next few showers until I need to exfoliate again and it all start it all over.

This sea salt and sugar scrub will dissolve and make much less mess.  Thank goodness.

EASY, TIGER BROWN PAPER LIQUOR BAG SET ($8)

WineBagsNow, this item was out of my fancy-ness level.  These are cute, little paper bags that you can use whenever you need to bring wine, or some other liquor, to a dinner party or housewarming party. Surprisingly, though, I tend to just drink my wine with Teton at my house, rather than send it to other people’s homes.

So, really I won’t be using this, except to decorate my own $9 bottle of wine.  However, I did get to check out the rest of the site where you can buy these and they have some really neat cards or notebooks that I will probably be purchasing as stocking stuffers this year.

DANIELLE STEVENS MONOGRAM GIFT CARD ($40)

MonoGiftcardThis is a gift card to Danielle Stevens Jewelry website.  And gift cards are always nice.  But this one is not necessarily my style.  I may grab one of the monogrammed clutches, because they are pretty cute.  More than likely though I will be sharing this card with a friend.

I’ve just never really gotten into the monogrammed thing.  And even though this gift card is for $40 (which is as much as the entire box costs!), I’ll still have to end up spending around $30 of my own money if I do purchase a clutch or bracelet.

SAVVY SLEEPERS LUXURY SATIN PILLOWCASE in “White Russian” ($36)

PillowCaseFrizzy hair saver! This is a satin pillowcase that is designed to help keep your hair from getting frizzy and is even supposed to be ‘anti-aging.’  Normally, I would be very skeptical of these claims.  But, both of my great-grandmothers (Neuma who passed away at 100 and Pauline who will be celebrating her 90th this May) used these pillowcases for as long as I can remember.  And grandmother’s are never, ever wrong.  Plus they both had amazing hair.

I was also thrilled to see that mine came in white, because my entire bedroom (which is so small it can only fit my bed and 2 bedside tables jammed right up next to the wall– but still) is decked out in white and grey.

RICHER POORER HOPE SLIPPER SOCKS ($15)

SocksAs much as I love white and grey and anything/everything neutral, these socks were a nice burst of color in the box.  These socks are incredibly soft, and I have already used them a few times when I lather my feet up with lotion and then wear these around all night to let it sink in.  The little grippy-things on the bottom do drive me nuts, because I tend to just pick them off and leave little plastic-sticky-bits all over the house.  But, maybe I’ve outgrown that– or I’ll just overlook it.

Bonus, these socks are pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month!  You’ve got to love a brand supporting a worthwhile cause.  I was able to look around their site even more, and I think I’ll be getting some unique socks as holiday gifts for some of my more-difficult-to-buy-for friends/family.

IT’S A 10 MIRACLE LEAVE-IN PRODUCT ($11.95)

Itsa10This is a product that I have seen many times at the store, even picked it up to check it out a bit further, but never actually bought.  But that was a mistake.  I have tons of leave-in conditioners.  I feel like everyone has their one ‘bored-shopping’ item they just can’t leave the store without and this is mine.  Plus, I received quite a few in BoxyCharms. And this one is my favorite! Well, maybe tied with i’ll make you look amazing daily spray and good ol’ coconut oil.  But, still out of the 46 that I own, making top 3 is pretty impressive.

We did only get the sample-size with this product, but I will be purchasing the full-size when it runs out.

***

How do I feel about the switch?  Almost $40 a month is more than I wan to spend on a subscription box… but, I love it!  Realistically, I see myself sticking with this box for a few months and then trying a cheaper one and then rotating this one back in.  You know mixing it up.  But, I loved almost everything in this box and it offered so, so much more variety than my other box.  Plus, I found a few new sites that I can order gifts off of for the holidays, rather than just sticking with my last-minute candle stand-by.

What do you think about PopSugar Must Have compared to other boxes you’ve tried?  What are your favorites or the next box that should be on my list?  Please, help a subscription-box-addict out.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

 

CHEERS TO THE MOUNTAINS

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet, but it was surprisingly fun to write. I got the idea (100% stole the idea with absolutely no shame) from one of my favorite blogs—a balancing peach. A balancing peach is a bit more girly than mine, but it also focuses on the importance of balance within your life. She loves make-up and takes beautiful photos of her favorite products and gives super helpful product reviews, but she also isn’t afraid to go out on the occasional hike. So really, I like to think that our blogs can kind of be mirror images of one another—she focuses on the girly, but isn’t afraid to bring in the outdoors. And I focus on the adventuring side, but like to add in my girl two-cents.

Basically, I’m the tom-boy unbalanced peach.

Oh, and the blogger is a phenomenal person. She loves wine and bread. She has no shame in participating in no-shower Sundays. She bought me my favorite Harry Potter t-shirt. And she does a much more thorough job than I do when cleaning the bathroom.

Oh yeah, and she was my college roommate—which is why I know all of this, not because I stalk her Instagram page (which I do…).

Last month Kelsey did a post called “Peach Parties” and it’s a spin on a blog post that has been circulating the internet. Normally, it’s used as a monthly wrap up– much like my Letter to… series, but I’m going to use it as a platform to share about me and get to know you.  It’s a really simple idea, but it’s a unique way to get to the person writing all of these I’m-trying-but-I’m-mediocre-at-everything posts. Namely: me.

Plus, she opened the format up for her readers to do and it was highly entertaining to scroll through the comments to see all of the different responses.

cheersSo, here I am to kick off my own version—Cheers to the Mountains

Wanting: to blow the dust off the old purse strings and buy a nice camera already

Reading: my first issue of Darling Magazine (it’s seriously like a book)

Watching: Modern Family (along with every Shonda Rhimes show on TV)

Listening: to Teton paw at his bed until he gets it just the right amount of fluffy/squished/shoved in his mouth

Hoping: I can sneak in some time to fish next week

Waiting: to try New Belgium’s Ben and Jerry Salted Caramel Brown Ale

Getting: anxious/excited for the upcoming holiday season

Wishing: fall weather would actually show up in Laramie (I will be regretting this wish in a few weeks, when it is frigid here, I’m sure)

Working: on stressing less about the small things, or teeny, tiny things, or really anything– I’m a high-strung ball o’stress

Dreaming: of getting in one more camping trip this season

Munching: on more raspberry scones than any one human should ever consume

Sipping: on every seasonal beer offered

Finishing: knitting the scarf that I started 2 years ago (well, I’m thinking of finishing it)

Saving: the cutest Thank You card ever that Brady and I received from his 4 year old best friend

Looking: like a junior high kid, with how much my face is freaking out (YAY stress break outs!)

Wearing: crewneck sweatshirts and my new Notre Dame sweatpants. Every, single day. As soon as I get home from work.

Buying: too many subscription boxes– I’m addicted

Refusing: to hang up my Chacos for the season (yes, I want fall, but I also want to wear my Chacos year-round)

Organizing: my latest 1,437 item To-Do list

Loving: My new mug from Pottery by Alex Apland (seriously I love it so, so much I’m making excuses to drink 3 cups of coffee and 5 cups of tea each day)

Bookmarking: anything and everything on The Internet Portal of McSweeney’s (especially this hilarious fall post)

***

Now you try! Copy and paste the list from below and let me know in the comments what you’re currently into.

Wanting:

Reading:

Watching:

Listening:

Hoping:

Waiting:

Getting:

Wishing:

Working:

Dreaming:

Munching:

Sipping:

Finishing:

Saving:

Looking:

Wearing:

Buying:

Refusing:

Organizing:

Loving:

Bookmarking:

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

NOTRE DAME: TRAVEL TID-BITS

Cheer, cheer for ol’ Notre Dame!

ND Field SelfieThis past weekend Brady and I were lucky enough to get to travel to South Bend, Indiana to watch the Fighting Irish take on Navy. And it was an absolute blast. Seriously, the most well-rounded trip that I think I have ever been on. What I mean is that this wasn’t just a couple’s get away trip, this wasn’t just a getting wild with friends trip, this wasn’t just a site-seeing trip, this wasn’t just a historical or spiritual trip. It was all of those rolled all together and packaged in the most beautiful blue and gold you can image.  Brady has been an Irish fan his entire life, and I quickly jumped on the fan-by-dating bandwagon.

Now, I realize that hearing about every, explicit detail about a trip that you weren’t on is not, in general, the most enjoyable thing. You know when you have to politely nod along and look at pictures that your co-worker took full of scenery you’ve never seen and people you don’t know? So, I have decided that I will share a bit of my trip (mostly because I just can’t stand to keep it all in), but I am going to put most of my focus on some general travel tips.

Well, I’m not even sure that ‘tips’ is the right word, I mean I’m not teaching you how I effectively pack in a carry-on (I do pack in a carry-on, but not effectively), or how to get trough airport security and get the TSA agents to laugh at your jokes (which I also attempt to do, but have very limited success), or how to sleep soundly in a hotel bed (which does not happen even in the ridiculously comfy and massive bed, I just find I have more room to thrash around as I attempted to sleep).

I want to focus (briefly—and I promise to try and keep it brief) on some broader topics with travel.

But, first a picture of me looking all intense and cross-eyed while Brady's all cheery with the Notre Dame helmets.
But, first a picture of me looking all intense and cross-eyed while Brady’s all cheery with the Notre Dame helmets.

Food

I am hard-core, serious about my food. Legitimately, my biggest reason for ever wanting to live in a bigger city is to have more food options. So, yeah, I take this pretty seriously.

  • Eat at local places– this is by far the most important to me. Honestly, I will get a bit upset when I hear that people traveled to some awesome place and only ate at chains. Yes, that may be snobby. Yes, that may be high-maintenance. Yes, that may be overly judge-y. But, take the time to research online or ask people who have been there or friendly locals you run into where the best place to eat is.  It will totally be worth your time.
  • Try to get one ‘normal’ meal a day– it’s really easy to get sucked in and eat every single meal out while you are on vacation. And that’s fine. But, I do find that I feel better and less sluggish if I sneak in one meal that is closer to something that I would eat normally. Try bringing along your favorite on-the-go breakfast or stopping by a grocery store for basic sandwich supplies at lunch. Bonus points if you are dedicated enough to pack your own meals beforehand (granted this is pretty dependent on how you travel and where you are staying).

Balance

This is a big one for me. I come from one of those families that wears matching t-shirts on our family reunion trips, maps out the fastest and most efficient course for the day, and plans every meal, drink, and bathroom stop weeks in advance. Which is incredibly helpful when all the other families are fighting crowds in DisneyWorld, while we are fast-tracking every ride, and still leaving time for dinner at that German place where everyone yells and we do the chicken dance. It’s so tempting to want to see absolutely everything when you go some place new. But, then again, vacations are for relaxing, too.

  • Prioritize– this is fairly simple: make a mental list (or a physical list using three different colors of pens, if you are neurotic like me) of your 100% must-sees. Then, check whatever schedules and make whatever reservations need to be made to ensure this happens. All of the other stuff that ‘would be fun if you have time’ or ‘could be cool to see’ will fall into place.
  • Get sleep– there can be late nights or early mornings, but not both—at least not everyday. It’s easy to fall into a mentality of ‘I’ll sleep when I get home.’ That is a good idea in theory; however, it can quickly cause even the most mature of adults to get cranky and irritable. It was that kind of thinking that had me furiously searching for coffee at the most exciting college football game I’ve been to, just to keep from doing the I’m-trying-desperately-not-to-fall-asleep-head-nod, during the 1st quarter. So, try to have at least one day of a little extra sleep time.
  • Try a variety of activities– in general, trips usually can be categorized pretty easily. They are relaxing, or informative, or wild. But, this was the first trip I have went on where we covered all of those things (plus more), and it made it so much more enjoyable. Granted, I love a trip where I can lay on the beach every single day. And I love a trip where we show off our dance moves at the local bar 4 nights straight. But, at a certain point you need to mix it up.  We were able to visit an unbelievably beautiful basilica, drink and dance late into the night, spend way too much money on Notre Dame clothing, and watch a football game (there was actually so, so much more, but I can’t fit it all into that snappy sentence—you get the idea though). It was perfect.
I even fit in time to relive some of my junior high track glory days.
I even fit in time to relive some of my junior high track glory days.

Kindness

Alright, this is something that I have always known and tried to do, but the importance of being kind became so in-your-face evident on this trip. My friend that we traveled with is the absolute queen of this. I like to give her a hard time and say she is a bulldozer, because she the person I go to whenever I need something done. But, honestly it’s just because she is personable and takes the time to be kind. I mean we got to go on a private visit to the President’s Suite on top of touchdown Jesus (this was such stinkin’ secret place we needed someone to open a secret panel and use a key in the elevator to get to the floor it was on) just because we were kind.

  • Smile– it goes a long, long way.  This is especially true for travel. Traveling tends to up people’s stress level (uh, me included as I started crying for no real good reason about 15 minutes before we left town), which significantly decreases the amount of smiles. So the workers are grumpy, the other travelers are grumpy, and it’s contagious. But fight it off! Just the act of smiling—even if you’re cry-for-no-reason stressed—will improve your mood and can be passed to those around you.
  • Introduce yourself– of course, don’t do this with everyone you pass on the street. You don’t wan to be that guy.  But, if you are somewhere and you keep bumping into the same crowd or there is an employee helping you out, take the time to introduce yourself. Then, ask about them. This basic small talk will help break any uncomfortable barriers and can really improve someone’s mood. In general, people love talking about themselves. ‘How long have you lived here?’ ‘Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever seen here?’ ‘What’s the best part about your job?’ And if worse comes to worse, the only thing that can happen is a few forced minutes of awkward small talk before you both move on with your day.
View from the President's Suite at night.
View from the President’s Suite at night.
Touch down Jesus-- did I mention I was on top of that?
Touch down Jesus– did I mention I was on top of that?

Honestly, this trip was unbelievable. It’s just one of those things that is absolutely indescribable. Once we got back people would politely ask how it was and I would just grin like an idiot and nod along saying something real intelligent about it being super, duper fun.  I just can’t find a way yet to actually explain how incredible the trip was.  Hopefully these tips can help you out to have your next trip be that super, duper, fun, indescribable trip.  I would love to hear all about it and any travel tips you may live by.

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

SMARTWOOL SOCKS: WORTH THE SPLURGE?

Let’s talk about socks, ba-by… Let’s talk about being itch-y.

Yes, this is a full basket of SmartWool socks.  But, any one who knows my obsessive tidyness knows that this is not at all how I store them (which really is folded neatly in a drawer), but solely for the sake of the picture.
Yes, this is a full basket of SmartWool socks. But, any one who knows my obsessive tidyness knows that this is not at all how I store them (which really is folded neatly in a drawer), but solely for the sake of the picture.

Yes, that is how I want to start this post about some of my favorite outdoors gear, ever. I’m talking SmartWool socks! And the first comment I get anytime I bring up these socks (which I am not ashamed to do in casual conversation), is about them being itchy. I think the ‘Wool’ right in the name makes people a little concerned about that. So, let’s see if my ridiculous collection of skiing socks (even though I rarely ski—only when forced by family reunion fun and definitely accompanied by tears as I complain to Stetson in the back of the pack) is worth the hefty price tag.

Price: around $25—of course, this varies depending on where you are buying the socks and what style they are in, but if you ever see them below this price tag be sure to jump for joy and buy absolutely all (and I mean all) of them because it is incredibly rare.

Function: First off: these are absolutely not itchy.

Okay, majority of these socks are designed for skiing, snowboarding, and hiking. General, outdoors excitement and fun. You know, these really are for those hard-core outdoors enthusiasts that mean business and look all tough-but-still-friendly and stuff. Or for the person like me who likes to wear these socks as I snuggle on the couch, or as I teach a group of highly-engaged-and-attentive junior high students, or as I stand of the freezing porch waiting for Teton to pick the perfect spot to poop. Yes, I lead a pretty glamorous life.

Style: This is the best part! There are so many style to choose from! I have a very, very limited amount of color in my wardrobe (seriously, it is practically all varying shades of grey, black, and white with a bit of maroon thrown in), so there are many days, where these socks are my only color. They have solid colors, they have crazy designs, they have bright colors, they have short socks, they have tall socks, everything you need. I personally love that they have some pairs that are extra long so they peek out over the top of my boots, just to add a bit of pizzazz to my dull look.

Honestly though, these socks are perfect for any look. You can easily wear them under skinny jeans, because they aren’t too bulky. You can, of course, wear them with snowpants. My step-mom (who has even more pairs than I do—I’m pretty sure) likes to wear them with skirts, boots, and tights to teach in. My favorite look (although it is not always the fanciest or most popular with the people around me) is to tuck leggings into these socks and pair it with a large sweartshirt or pullover. And you better believe I am not afraid to rock these with my Chacos or Toms (yes, I know—such a hippy and so trendy) if I feel the urge.

Repurchase:  Yes, yes, and yes. Well, actually I have purchased very few of the pairs of SmartWools that I have. Each year Santa likes to bring socks to all of the grandchildren in our family. And I have made it explicitly clear that I prefer SmartWool socks, which definitely trumps the Nike athletic or cutesy Costco socks that everyone else asks for. So, really by ‘repurchase’ I mean ask for as a stocking stuffer again. My absolute only complaint is that I shed an obscene amount and these socks seems to attract any and all hair and refuse to let it go.  It’s almost as if they integrate it into their weave of fabric.  But, I can look past that.  My collection is seriously starting to get out of hand, but I seriously love these socks. And given my 10-month long winters in Laramie, I feel like I certainly get my use out of them.

 

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

TREAT YO’SELF SCONES

Scones on MTI absolutely had to share this recipe. I mean, I had to. I have legitimately made these scones 3 separate times in the last week and a half. Not exaggerating and no shame in my scone game.

Of course, this recipe fits my two biggest requirements when it comes to working in the kitchen: they are nearly impossible to screw up (even for my non-timing-non-temperature-sensing oven) and they are quick to whip together (like I did it sitting on my couch watching an episode of Friends quick).

Now, just so you are aware these are in no, way, shape, or form a healthy snack. They are full fat, full sugar, full gluten, full anything/everything good about food. And that’s why they taste so darn delicious! Normally, I try to up the health factor with recipes or substitute healthier options where possible, but not here. These are a Treat Yo’self Scone and I like it that way. It’s all about moderation… so, maybe don’t follow my lead and try to just make these every so often, rather than every 4 days.

This recipe comes from twopeasandtheirpod, with a few additional notes from yours truly.

Scone IngredientsIngredients:

Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons cold, cubed butter

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1/3 cup sliced almonds

1 cup raspberries

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

4 tablespoons heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper to ensure easy clean up.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add in the butter (be sure it is cold and cubed) using two knives, a pastry blender, or your hands (I obviously went the hands route—less dishes) ‘cut in’ the butter. *This just means squish/chop it all up until the mixture begins to look like extra lumpy sand.*
  3. Add heavy cream and almond extract to the mixture. Stir with a spatula (or again I used hands) until the dough begins to stick together and almost form a ball.
  4. Add in raspberries and sliced almonds.  Mix these in using the spatula (or your good ol’ mixing hands), as well.  *The recipe says to not ‘over-mix’ the dough at this step. The first time I made these I was incredibly conscientious of that and treated this dough like it was a delicate, little flower. But, the second and third time I wasn’t afraid to really get in there and mix everything together. I really didn’t notice a difference.*
  5. Form scones into whatever shape you desire—this recipe (depending on your amount of dough eating) should yield about 10 scones. Place these onto the lined baking sheet.
  6. Place scones in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes.
  7. While the scones are cooling mix together powdered sugar, heavy cream, and almond extract in a small bowl.  Keep mixing until you get your desired consistency for the glaze. *Mine looked about like the frosting on a cinnamon roll—and was absolutely delicious to lick off of the spoon.*
  8. Once scones have cooled, top with glaze and enjoy!

Scone in hand

Ok, I know baking can be overwhelming at times because you need to be more precise with measuring ingredients and such.   And honestly, I just about skipped right past this recipe when I saw that I had to ‘cut-in butter’ and make my own glaze. Way, way above my skill level.

But, these are really so easy. Just go wild like I did and use your hands. It makes getting the consistency you want easier, it cuts down on dishes to wash, and it gives you an excuse to lick off all that extra dough you really didn’t try that hard to get off of your fingers.

These were an absolute hit. Brady and I ate them as dessert after our dinner. My brother dunked them in to his chili (this I, personally, do not recommend, but he seemed happy and chomped down two). I even brought some to work to share with my co-workers—and I am usually so not that person, but I just had to share.

The raspberries are a bit summer-ish, but I am thinking I could chop up apples, or use cranberries in my next batch (or 6).

What event are you going to make these for (by ‘event’ I totally mean anything from a friend’s birthday to binge watching Netflix on the couch)? What fruit would you mix in to replace the raspberries? Are there any healthy substitutions I could put in, once I start feeling too guilty for eating two of these bad boys a day? I would love to hear all about it!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney

THANK YOU– GIVEAWAY

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!  MountainGirlyGirl has been up and running for just over 6 months now, and I definitely think you who have been reading my posts deserve a big thank you.  I thought blogging was going to be piece of cake and a fun way to give me an outlet for writing.  But, I quickly learned I had a pretty steep learning curve and made plenty of mistakes along the way.

The focus of my writing was unclear– it’s still getting honed in, but I feel like I am much closer now.  My pictures were terrible– they are slowly improving, but I still have a lot of work to do.  The new technology was super confusing– there are still bugs to be worked out, but I’m starting to get a solid grip on at least the basics.

Okay, so clearly MountainGirlyGirl is still a work in progress, but that’s the whole point of this blog—“… Mostly, just a whole lot of trying”—right?

So, thank you for dealing with, and continuing to put up with, my growing pains here online.

Now, to the fun part…

I want to give you a gift! Well, really I want to give all of you a gift, but I’m a blogger on a budget (much like a baller on a budget), so I can only give away one Package O’ Thankfulness, but know the appreciation is very much there for all of you.

Giveaway
Contents:

GOBI STRAPS

Sunglasses croakies AND a bottle opener AND they have awesome designs? Uh, yes.  This is the perfect accessory for any outdoor adventure.  Or causal evening sitting on the couch… there are no rules.  This is a really cool company that my brother introduced to me.  They just embody that carefree outdoors spirit that remind of exactly how time in nature should feel– laidback.

BEAUTY IN THE BACKCOUNTRY MOISTURIZER AND LIP BALM

Ok, this just screams MountainGirlyGirl.  Beauty in the Backcountry is a company based out of Canada that is dedicated to women embracing their inner beauty and the outdoors.  Which is exactly what I am all about—even when my beauty in the outdoors is strictly frizzy hair, baseball hats, and a sunscreen slicked face.  These products can at least help you to feel slightly less gross when your showers have been reduced to splashing water from the nearest creek. Plus, the packaging is adorable.

MOUNTAINGIRLYGIRL STICKER

I have my own sticker! This is ridiculously exciting for me.  I had a friend put together a logo for me, just so I could have something a bit prettier pop-up on the internet tab when you type in www.mountaingirlygirl.com.  But, I loved the finished product so much I had to do more with it, so I decided to make it into a sticker.  It’s kind of an outdoors junkie ‘thing’ to be into stickers. Whether they cover your Nalgene bottle, the bumper of your car, or your notebook—stickers can show what you are into, where you have been, and what companies you support.  Also, I think it just plain looks really cool.

Here’s what you need to do:
•    Subscribe to MountainGirlyGirl.com: Just hit that subscribe button on the left side of the computer (or at the bottom of the page if you are on a phone).  Good news: I finally figured out all of the bugs, so I am sorry for those of you who subscribed early on and got 7 million and a half emails or just stopped getting any emails all together.  Now, I have my subscribe button fixed, so you will just get one email each time I have a new post.  Please, double check to be sure you a subscribed and eligible to win the giveaway gift!

That’s it!  Once you are subscribed I will have your email, so I can notify the winner and contact you for an address to send all of your goodies.  The winner will be randomly selected (using a number generator) one week from today—October 8th and I will contact you via email, so be sure to be on the lookout.

Thank you again for checking out my biweekly ramblings.  I love getting to share a bit of my love for all things girly and outdoors with you!

Thanks for reading,

Sydney