What’s In My Travel Bag?

Hello everyone!

It’s been about a week since I’ve posted! I decided to take an unplanned break from blogging after I got home from Stone Harbor. Since I was traveling yet again this past weekend to Grand Cayman (where I am now),  I just wanted to rest and be with my family before I traveled again! However, since this is my first post from Cayman, I thought I would share what I have in my travel bag! More specifically, this is what I keep in my personal item bag when I’m on the plane.

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Since my carry-on is a bigger carry on and is usually either stowed in the overhead compartment, I need to keep all of my essentials in this bag. So, before I left for California, I hunted for a good tote bag big enough to carry what I need, while not too big. So, as I usually do, I went to Goodwill and Community Aid first. I’m so glad that I did, because I found this gem at Community Aid for $10! It’s originally from Aldo, so I’m hoping that means that it’ll last for a long time.

So inside the bag, I try to keep everything pretty organized for easy access at the airport. I have a computer case holding my iPad and the little keyboard that I use to write my blog posts with (so, if you’ve seen more typos than usual, that’s probably why.. it’s a little more difficult to type with the bluetooth keyboard). I always have a book to read in the airport and on the plane, an I usually just take an easier read like this Sarah Dessen book. I have a book light in case I need it to read with on the plane, as well. I keep a brush and a scrunchie to keep my hair in line and out of my face. In the red “Fifteen Puzzle” case, I keep my earphones, so that they don’t get tangled up with other things in my bag. I also make sure to always have a notebook and a pen with me to write down ideas for blog posts and stories! Then of course, I have my sunglasses in their case and an extra battery charger for my phone if I my phone or iPad runs low on energy. I have my wallet for obvious reasons of course, with my ID and money. I have my quart-sized bag of toiletries that I can easily pull out for security.

 

 

Inside my toiletries bag, I keep my essentials that I can’t just put in my checked bag. So, here I have mascara, concealer, sunscreen, hand lotion, toothpaste, hand sanitizers, and deodorant. There are a few products, like the face mask and the deodorant, that I probably don’t need to put in with the liquids, but I just like to have them all together for easier storage.

 

 

I also have my makeup bag here from Ipsy, which I like to have on beach vacations since it is waterproof. Inside, I put some toiletries for the plane; such as an face wipes, eye mask, oil blotting sheets, earplugs, a nail file, and some hair ties. I’ve found all of these to be essentials while I’m traveling on a plane, especially on longer flights where you might like to try to sleep.

I’ve been really enjoying writing about travel-related things on my blog this summer, since it has been such a big part of my life for the last two months! I’m thinking about writing more about my advice for longer flights, since I took a red-eye back from California, and I thought of some extra tips for others who may be taking a red-eye or a longer flight while traveling! If anyone wants to see something in particular on my blog, please feel free to comment any blog post suggestions! I would love to see them 🙂

XOXO

L

Weekly Recap: Stone Harbor!

//MONDAY//

 

I woke up later than I expected (again…) at around 10, with coffee and doughnuts waiting downstairs. While I was sleeping, my boyfriend went to the beach, and then went back to the house before heading out with my mom and cousin to the bakery and the Wawa down the street. All this, before he woke my lazy butt up XD

After breakfast, we got ready and headed down to the beach. We had intended to stay for about an hour and then head back to meet my parents for lunch, but it was so windy at the beach again! We waded in the ocean for about five or ten minutes, but once we headed back and tried to lay down a blanket and sit, it felt like we were being sand-blasted! Needless to say, that “beach day” did not last long. We stayed for about five minutes more before heading back to the house for showers.

I got ready, and then our whole family headed out to a restaurant called Chill. It is a rooftop restaurant, so everyone was a little concerned about wind, but it ended up being pretty pleasant up on the rooftop! I had avocado toast and lentil soup. They were presented beautifully and I wish I had remembered to take a picture, but I was so hungry that I tore into my lunch without a second thought! It was a pleasant way to spend part of the afternoon, and since we had to wait a little longer than usual for our food, the restaurant sent us a dessert for us all to share, on the house! It was a s’mores dip, and it was dangerously good.

Nathaniel and I hunted down an ATM after lunch, and then shopped for a little bit. I got a couple pairs of sunglasses (which he treated me to because he’s such a sweetie), and he got some cheese from the Bread and Cheese Cupboard. We walked around a little bit more before returning back to the house for a nap. As you can probably already tell, this vacation in Stone Harbor is going to be a pretty lazy and laid back one! I’m okay with that.

We woke up for dinner, which was egg noodles with broccoli alfredo sauce, courtesy of my aunt! It was so delicious! After dinner, we tried to find baseball on TV, but instead, we settled for Last Man Standing, which is a family favorite! We all congregated inside, since a pretty wicked storm rolled in. Dark clouds were coming in pretty quickly, and as soon as the clouds came over us they started dumping rain. Pouring rain, wind, and lightning, and there was even a tornado warning at home! Even so, like most summer storms, it passed quickly and left us with just rain and sporadic lightning strikes.

After the worst of the storm had passed, Nathaniel had to leave to go home, which made me so sad! But I’m so glad that he was able to come for as long as he did 🙂 After he left, I just hung out with my family watching television, since we couldn’t go outside and go for an ice cream run (which has been postponed for tomorrow evening.)

//TUESDAY//

 

Today, the guys all went on their annual golf trip. So, us girls usually plan a fun trip for ourselves as a group, too! This year it was my mom, aunt, grandmother, and me, so we decided on something a little more low-key. We went down to Cape May and just walked around the promenade, exploring all of the little shops. It had been a few years since I had been there, so it was nice to refresh my memory and go and see what was new there! We had lunch at a place called Delaney Irish Pub and Grill for lunch, and they had a surprisingly large and daring menu (for a self-declared Irish pub). I ended up getting a tomato and mozzarella salad, which was beautifully presented and delicious. I nearly cleaned my plate.

We walked around a little bit more, and stopped to get some ice cream for my grandmother, who was craving some. I got a scoop of tiramisu ice cream, which was a little too sweet but was still pretty good. It was just fun to hang out with the women in my family.

After we got back from Cape May, I went on a short run. It was so hot out that once I got back to my house my grandmother took one look at my beet red face and exclaimed, “You’re really sweating, girl!” I changed out of my sweaty and sunscreen-y clothes and drove into Philly with my aunt and uncle to pick up my cousin Sarah from her apartment. She wasn’t able to come at the beginning of the week, so we were really excited to see each other! She didn’t know that I was coming, so I was able to surprise her 🙂 I even got to meet her little kitten, Margo, who is the cutest and tiniest cat I have ever met!

On the way back to the shore, we stopped at Wawa to get something to eat for dinner. I got a quesadilla that was much better than a lot I’ve gotten at bonafide restaurants before! Once we got back to the shore, Sarah and I walked around the downtown area… and I got some more ice cream. I couldn’t help myself (insert monkey-covering-eyes emoji here). But we had a lot of fun just walking and catching up, and we walked to the ocean and the bay to watch the water. It was straight to bed after we got back to the house at around 11!

//WEDNESDAY//

I went for a run after hanging out with my family at breakfast time. By the time I got back, Sarah and her friend Stephanie (who had arrived in the morning) had gone down to the beach, so I put on my swimsuit and joined them. I walked down to the beach with my dad, who wanted to track down my mom, who had been at the beach since early in the morning. It was a good thing I found her, since I had forgotten my beach tag back at the house! They’re pretty strict about the beach tags here. If you don’t have one, you can’t get on the beach, and that’s that. I found the girls, and we all sat in the sun together. Them tanning, me sitting and constantly spraying on my 100 SPF sunscreen. Once we got down to the water, it was so cold that we all screeched when the first tide came in and lapped at our toes. We got used to it after a while, but I’m always surprised at how chilly the water is, even in the dead of June.

After a few hours, we headed back to the house at 1 for lunch. I took a shower, because my bathing suit bottoms (the ones that I featured in my Summer Favorites!) bled black dye all over my waist. I still love the suit, but they’ve done that twice, even after washing them. I’m pretty sure that it’s because of the sunscreen, but there’s no getting away from that. It’s not like I’m going to burn (and I definitely would) to prevent it from rubbing black dye all over me. That, and can you imagine the weird burn I would get from that suit, since it has all the criss-cross detailing?

After my shower, we all ate some lunch and headed upstairs to relax. The girls took naps, and I worked on my blog post, Exercising on Vacation? After dinner, we all walked downtown to the bookstore, and after we got there a torrential downpour started. we ran from shop to shop trying to keep dry on the way back to the house. I wasn’t complaining, we stopped in a Teavana-like shop where I shamelessly tried all three teas and had a second sample of my favorite one. But, I did make up for it by buying some tea, so I think we’re even.

//THURSDAY//

 

Today was an extremely laid back day. The rest of the girls in the family went to the beach but I wasn’t really feeling it for some reason. I decided to go for a run and relax at the house instead. I went to Green Cuisine to pick up lunch for those of us who were interested… and the food is really good, but way too overpriced, which I forget about every year. I worked on the blog and hung out with my family until dinner. My mom made her chicken divan (vegetarian style for me), which is a Stone Harbor tradition for our family. Sarah had gone back to Philly to go pick up her roommates to come down to the shore as well, and when they got back we all went to Kohr Brothers for ice cream. We walked around town some more after that, before going to the house to play Yahtzee. It lasted for an hour and a half, before one of Sarah’s friends finally got a Yahtzee to end the game. Then, we all went to bed.

//FRIDAY//

Today was our last full day at the house! It was a rainy and dreary morning. But the whole family still went to Uncle Bill’s Pancake house (our annual tradition), where I got the pecan waffle. It was pretty good, however, the coffee could have been stronger. But my taste buds are pretty much dead from my excessive espresso consumption so it was probably just fine XD After that we came back to the house, we relaxed for a bit before I went for a speed-walk with my dad around town, since the weather had cleared up. We walked for over 2 miles, and stopped at the Wawa near our house to pick up some cokes. We sat and talked for a while longer until the girls caught up with us on their way to the beach. I headed back to the house to get ready to join them, and my mom came with me on the walk to the beach. I must have brought the bad luck, because once I got there it was pretty windy on the beach, so we didn’t stay for very long. I wanted to try an acai bowl from Shore Juice, so we walked there next. It was overpriced but worth it, because it was divine.

Once we got back to the house, I finished working on my OOTW post, and we watched the Food Network for a little while. Once we all got hungry, the girls went out for pizza at Stone Harbor Pizza. We got two large pizzas to all share, and the vegetarian pick was the bruschetta pizza which was to die for. Seriously, if you’re in the area, I highly recommend! I hadn’t been to the restaurant in a really long time and they’ve really stepped up their game with renovations and menu changes. Also, quick tip: it tasted even better with ranch, if you are a ranch lover like we are!

We went back to the house again, and went down to the bay to watch the sunset with my grandmom. The bay is right down the street from us, so it’s a quick walk away. It was so bright and the colors were more subdued, but still pretty nonetheless. We had fun sitting together, and singing (cough*badly*cough) the national anthem. I’m not exactly sure why, but we serenaded the water anyway. That, and we took some cute pictures.

We got ready and then went out to play mini golf. It was just us girls, since the parents and grandparents were too tuckered to come. The golf course that we like is a three level course, and we go there every year, too. Usually it’s the entire family going, but this was fun, too. We played about halfway through, doing a livestream for part of it, until the power went out completely. We looked around, and the lights were out in the shops across the street. It was fine since we had flashlights on our phones, but it was still a little creepy. We played for a few more minutes until we were kicked out… Understandable, but still disappointing. We didn’t get a refund, but instead, we got vouchers to use for our game next year.

It was strange, because only about half of the shops downtown were closed. So, we walked around town a little bit more until we were all tired enough to go home. The power was out in our house, too, so my mom and grandmother had lit some candles. We all headed upstairs to get ready for bed (in the dark), until the power finally came on at about 11:30ish. I wasn’t especially tired, so I packed up all of my stuff after the power came back on, and watched an episode of The Hills.

//SATURDAY//

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We all woke up early since we had to be out of the house by 10 am. We packed the car up and were the last to leave, and before leaving town we stopped by 101st street’s gazebo to say goodbye to the ocean, which is a tradition that my family has. We always have to say goodbye to the ocean, and take some pictures as a family. Then, we just drove home and relaxed for the rest of the night.

//

xoxo

L

Weekly Recap: Coast to Coast

//MONDAY//

This morning, we decided to have a beach day! We went to Avila Beach, which is about forty minutes away from my aunt and uncle’s house. We got lucky and got a parking spot right in front of the beach. We went to a place called Hula Hut for lunch, and I just got a cheese quesadilla, which was delicious. We went to the beach and got a place on the sand. I just sat and watched the tide roll in and out on the sand, and I thought about how different west coast beaches are compared to east coast, and it occurred to me that in the space of one week, I’ll have dipped my toes in the ocean on both sides of the country, since I’ll be in Stone Harbor on Saturday night!

I played with my little cousins in the water edge. We played follow-the-leader, touch football, tag, and they played on the swings and flew a kite. It got so windy after about an hour and a half, so we decided to pack it up and go walk around the cute shops near the waterfront. I stopped into one of the shops and picked out a cute royal blue baseball cap, since I wear them all the time and I wanted a little momento from the day! We went to Beach-N-Yogurt for frozen yogurt, which was super yummy. I got raspberry and coconut flavored yogurt and put a bunch of fruit on top. I haven’t had frozen yogurt in so long, so it was perfect for such a warm and sunny summer day! We hung out more on the beach for a little while, and we found a little cove tucked behind the cliffs beside the ocean. It was just a pleasant little spot. The water was warmer, more still, and there wasn’t anywhere near as much wind. I didn’t want to leave!

We drove back to the house, and I took a quick shower before dinner. After my aunt got home from work, we watched the end of the basketball finals (everyone was so excited about Golden State winning!) and we all decided to go for a run/walk/bike out around the development. My aunt and I mostly just jogged, and we saw the sunset over the hills around the hiking trails, which was beautiful! The setting sun illuminated the hills and made them look golden!

Before heading to bed, we all played Sorry, which I had never actually played before! It was pretty fun and went quickly. I sang some hymns with my uncle as well, before the kids went to bed.

//TUESDAY//

While my aunt and uncle were at meetings or at work, I watched the boys in the late morning into the afternoon. Once my aunt got home, she took us to Target, and nice I was finished in there and she had some other errands to run in the other stores in the complex, I went over to Ulta. I got a couple things, like concealer (since I’m nearly out). I decided to try the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer that all of my favorite YouTubers seem to love. I decided to go for something new since my Fit Me concealer is okay, but hasn’t wowed me. I also decided to pick up an Essence brow mascara, since it was only about three dollars. Why not, right? And it turns out to be a really good little product! I tried it out once I got back to the house, and I like it so far.

//WEDNESDAY//

Today was a very exciting day! I covered most of the day’s adventures in my post To Sit Atop a Rock, but here are some more pictures that I didn’t include in that post! Also, my uncle took me to see the ocean one last time, before I had to leave!

//THURSDAY AND FRIDAY//

Thursday and Friday are a blur and run together in my mind. On Thursday morning, I went to Target and Ulta (again) with my aunt and cousins. The Ulta run was for me since I bought the wrong shade concealer for my skin tone on Tuesday. Then, we rushed back to the house for my aunt to get ready for work. Once she left, and we said goodbye, I looked after the boys until my uncle came home from work, and he took me to the airport. We had dinner there, at a restaurant right next to the airport called Spirit of Sa Luis. I had a quesadilla, which was really good, despite the fact that I was nervous for my flight!

I checked in after dinner and hung out with my uncle and little cousins before going through security. My uncle read us jokes off the internet, which ranged from funny to stupid to downright hilarious. After forty minutes, I had to go through security and wait for the plan inside. I said my goodbyes and gave hugs to mu uncle and two little cousins, which was so sad! I missed being home, but I loved the time that I spent with them, and I’m just so thankful that I got to spend the time that I did with them!

I waited for the plane for about another hour after getting through security. San Luis Obispo’s airport is tiny, with only one gate, so getting through security was pretty quick, thankfully! When I boarded the plane, my uncle and cousins were still there at the fence of the parking lot to wave goodbye to me. Once I got on the plane, I read Something Borrowed (not the best book ever, but a good plane read) until I landed in Phoenix at 9ish. I watched the sunset on the plane on the way to Phoenix, which was beautiful, but also showed the impending red-eye that I was not looking forward to… to say the least!

I had about a three-hour layover in Phoenix. By the time I boarded the Philly-bound jet, I was so exhausted I was about ready to cry. It was difficult to get comfortable, but I was about to “catch a wink” (as the pilot said it before takeoff). I woke up about an hour before we landed in Philly. The hour passed quickly (thank God), and I met my parents at the baggage claim! I was so so excited to see them. I missed them both so much while I was in California.

We drove back home, which, once I got there, made me feel like I never left in the first place. Then I showered and went to bed. It probably wasn’t the best decision for my jet-lag, but I was so tired that I think that it was necessary. I slept for hours… Until 4:30! Then I watched some Friends on Netflix before I had dinner (Burger King) with my parents.

It’s good to be home!

//SATURDAY//

Thanks to jet lag and my well-intentioned nap, I did not sleep at all. I read, watched movies, and wrote blog posts (you’re welcome) until about 7 in the morning.I fell asleep shortly after that, until about 11 before it was time for us to get ready to go to the shore! However, my mom had a lot she needed to do, so my dad and I went to Subway to pick up lunch. I got my usual sandwich and an orange juice… Because my body is either still adjusting to Pennsylvania stuffiness, or I got a slight cold on the plane. Or an almost-cold… It’s at the point right now where my throat feels funny, but it could go a good way or a bad way. Here’s to hoping for the good way, which is that this clears up so that I’m not sick at the beach!

After lunch, it took another couple of hours to gather our things and pack up the car. We left the house at around 3 in the afternoon. We were finally on the road to Stone Harbor! We tried a different way of going to the shore… Instead of using the Commodore Barry Bridge, we used Delaware Memorial Bridge. On the way, I read and did my makeup in the car. I really think that the change of pace was nice, and it felt like it took less time to get to the shore. After we got about 30 minutes away from the beach house, we met my grandparents for dinner at a diner along the way. By the time we finished and left for the house, it was 7:30, and my boyfriend and my aunt and uncle were waiting for us to let them into the house! Once we got there, it was unload, clean, and unpack. I hung out with my boyfriend for a little, and gave him something to eat. I was so exhausted that I wanted to fall asleep early… That jet lag is still messing with me! Hopefully tonight, I can fall asleep and nip it in the bud so that I’m not tired tomorrow.

//SUNDAY//

Today I woke up at about 9, hopefully resetting my sleep schedule. I did, however, wake up with a sore throat. So, I’m thinking that it is either a small cold or allergies, since my body is still getting to the Pennsylvania humidity. I’m leaning towards allergies since I felt better after taking some Sudafed.

I gave my dad his father’s day card, and ate breakfast with the family while everyone else gave gifts and cards to the dads in the family. After hanging out and talking, Nathaniel and I walked downtown to explore some of the shops. It’s interesting to see what’s new in town and what shops have closed, but there aren’t too many changes this year! After walking around town, we went back to the house and hung out, and eventually taking a nap. It was just your typical lazy Sunday, which was so relaxing.

After dinner, I walked to the beach with Nathaniel and my mom. It was too windy and cold on the beach to even put a toe in the water, so I just sat and watched the waves. My mom, a braver woman than I, went out for a swim and even went up to her waist. She was in the water for about ten minutes, which is longer than I would have lasted!

As I was watching the waves, I thought about the fact that on Monday I went to the beach on the West coast at Avila Beach, and now here I am on the East coast, at Stone Harbor! It’s kind of surreal, and I’m so thankful that I got to see so much of California with my family while I was there 🙂

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I hope that everyone enjoyed reading about my adventures in California! I’m still planning on writing the Weekly Recaps, possibly for the rest of the summer! Or, at least when I’m traveling. So, next Monday, expect to see a week in the life at Stone Harbor!

XOXO

L

 

To Sit Atop A Rock…

Hello everyone!

I have a cool story to share from last Wednesday, the day before I left California! I am home safe and sound, I flew back home Thursday and got back Friday morning. I was planning on including this in my Weekly Recap that I’m posting on Monday, but as I was writing it, I realized that this experience deserves its own post. Mostly because it would have made the recap twice as long as it usually is, but also because this blog is about my life… and the fact that I want to share as much of my life as I possibly can. So, bear with me a bit on what will quite possibly turn into a bit of a ramble!

Today, I went hiking on a trail that winds up a mountain side and overlooks Morro Bay, which is one of my favorite spots near where my aunt and uncle live. We hiked up, my aunt, youngest cousin, and I on foot, and Matthew on his mountain bike. The trail was dusty and slightly slippery because of that, so I was once again impressed with my cousin’s courage and bravery. Even though he’s ten years younger than me, he does things (like zipping down mountainsides on dirtbikes at break-neck speeds) that I would never be able to do. It was a scorching hot day and the trail had no tree cover at all, but the hike was still enjoyable. The views got more and more gorgeous the more we hiked, and I got to very near the top of one of the hills. There was a large rock that I could sit on, so I climbed up, took a few pictures, and then took a seat to survey the view, looking over the bay and the freshwater reserve that is a bird sanctuary.

My aunt told me something really interesting as we were hiking. That spot is actually really unique because the fresh water from the wetlands and the saltwater of the sea mix together. I did some research later on Morro Bay, and I discovered that this is called an Estuary. This occurrence is actually really rare, and I got to overlook it while sitting on top of a rock. The beauty of God’s creation was so incredibly overwhelming in that moment, and it made me think about that sermon from last Sunday, about Psalm 8. That Psalm is quickly becoming one of my favorites, and it is so fitting for that special moment that I spent overlooking Morro Bay’s Estuary.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers-
the moon and the stars you set in place-
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them everything you made,
putting all things under their authority
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky; the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.
O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth! (Ps. 8:3-9)

Majesty really is the right word to use. Any amount of pictures that I could post couldn’t do this place justice. Not the marsh, the bay, the ocean in the horizon, or even the birds circling the hillside. Just the same, my words can’t do justice to the strong surge of faith that I felt in that moment as well. I felt, and still feel, so thankful to be there. That I got to sit on top of a rock and overlook a beautiful sliver of majesty, worked by the hands of God himself.

After a while, I could hear the voices of my aunt and cousins, were waiting for me at the bottom of the hill. So, I hopped off my rock and headed down to meet them. The boys were starting to get a little squirrelly because they were dying to go meet my uncle. Turns out, he had come to the trail after his work shift ended. He was going to take us rock climbing, much to my surprise! I was not expecting to go climbing… let alone actually do it myself! I originally thought that I would just watch my cousins and my aunt, but my uncle brought an extra pair of shoes, and my aunt lent me her harness. I looked over the rock walls, and decided that if I didn’t try it now, I might not ever do it again. I would have regretted it if I hadn’t at least given rock climbing a try. So, I put on a pair of borrowed rock climbing shoes, and (with some help) strapped on the harness. I watched my little cousin Matthew climb all the way up to the top of the rock wall, and hop back down again. As I watched, I surprised myself with the fact that I was getting excited to give it a try! Once it was my turn to climb, my uncle helped rope me in and “belayed” the rope for me. I learned that is when a person stays on the ground and holds the rope for you. They make sure you feel secure, and they make sure you have enough rope. One side of the rope is tied to the climber’s harness, and the other is fed through the belayer’s harness. The climber puts full trust in the person that is belaying them. They have to trust that if they fall, the person on the ground will hold the rope and keep them safe. And let me tell you, at that high up, that trust is hard to give.

I climbed twice. The first climb was on a wall with plenty of footholds and places to put my hands. The second, however, was more challenging. It was steeper, with not as many prominent footholds. My uncle coached me through each step, telling me that if I find even a place to put my toe, the shoes will hold. What I found the most challenging was the fact that there weren’t as many places to put my hands. I had to use strength almost entirely without a good hand-hold, and one time it made me stumble. I lost my footing, and my feet slid out from under me. I clung to the rope as I twisted around, trying to regain a good position on the rock. All the while, my uncle held the rope. When I fell the rope didn’t even budge. I was safe, even if I was panicking on the inside. After twisting around a little, I calmed myself down and soon found another good foothold and was able to steady myself again.

After I finished that climb, I thought about how that experience is a pretty good metaphor for faith and fear (I know, I know, English major alert). Even though life is difficult and sometimes we’ll have trouble finding a foothold, God’s got the rope. Even if we fall, God’s got the rope. It may sound a little cliche, but I still find the thought extremely comforting.

After sitting on these experiences and letting them percolate in my heart, I’ve realized the lessons that I learned from them. Here’s what I’ve got so far. First, I’ve learned how important it is to stop and take a breath. Stop, sit on top of a rock, and look at the majesty around you. Even if you’re not religious, and many of the people who I love and respect and may be reading this now aren’t, I still think that this is so important. Life is one big chaotic storm of crazy curveballs that are thrown at us one-by-one. It’s so easy to forget that sometimes all we need is just to take a step back and breathe and acknowledge the limitless and humbling majesty of the world in which we live.

Second, a lesson in faith. Faith in the fact that God’s got my rope. Faith in my own strength. Faith in the fact that even if I don’t deserve it, God still “crowned” me with “glory and honor,” and this love and grace will never fade. And in my mind and heart, this limitless love is just as huge, majestic, and humbling, as this view.

XOXO

L

Weekly Recap: Cali Week Two!

// MONDAY//

Today was pretty laid back! I woke up a little later than I expected, and spent a little bit of time watching the new Tati Westbrook video in bed. Tati is one of my favorite beauty gurus EVER! She is so much fun, and super knowledgeable! I may or may not be watching one of her videos as I write this XD

I ran some errands with my uncle, which included a Target run. There’s that Ulta two doors down from the Target, and I was dying to go in, but I exercised EXTREME self-control and did not. Who wants to take bets and see how long it’ll take me to end up going back, even though I don’t have much money to spend? I’m here for another week and a half and that BECCA X Chrissy Teigen palette has been calling my name since last Wednesday.

We went to Paso Robles to a place called Touch of Paso for brunch, and I got french toast with strawberries and cream cheese. It looked so good I completely forgot to take a picture of it. It took about three seconds to tuck into that, let me tell you… So good! Then, after picking my cousin up from school, I spent the rest of the afternoon looking after him, and making a pasta dish for dinner.

//TUESDAY//

In the morning I woke up to an empty house, and I went for a run! When my aunt came home at lunchtime with my little cousin from kindergarten, we had lunch, then I ran to Trader Joes for some groceries for the house. I had a headache and wasn’t feeling good, so after coming back to the house, I rested for about an hour. I woke up a little before dinner, and soon after that it was time to put the kids to bed. Later on, I talked with my aunt and uncle over some creme brulee, which was so good!

//WEDNESDAY//

This morning, I woke up later than I expected. I rushed to get a shower, and went to my little cousin’s kindergarted class for their end of the school year party. They san some songs, and had a slideshow fromeverything that they did during the year, which was so adorable! I took Jackson home, and we had lunch. My aunt came home from work, and we got ready for a pool party that she was hosting for Jackson’s kindergarten class. Most of the kids came with their parents, and I just tried to help as much as I could, since there were so many people!

After the kiddos left, we went to pick Matt up from school. Afterward, I played connect four with Jackson before dinner. Then, we just watched AFV on YouTube before baths and bedtime.

//THURSDAY and FRIDAY//

Unfortunately, I didn’t do much on either of these days because I wasn’t feeling very well. Thursday was the last day of school for the kiddos, and they were so so excited! I went for a run, which was nice since I hadn’t been on a run for a day or two. That, and I did a couple work out videos, one by my Tone It Up girls, and an abs video by Rebecca Louise that was KILLER. I mean it. Killer, and I’m so sore.

On Friday, I looked after my little cousins and one of their friends all morning. The boys trapped frogs and tadpoles, swam in the pool, biked and scootered… I was tired just watching them! That, and I watched The Sandlot for the first time with the youngest, Jackson, and I actually really liked it! Later on, I was supposed to go to a beach party for a couple of hours with my aunt and little cousins, but I just couldn’t do it. I rested and took a nice hot shower, which helped. Then, after dinner, I looked after the kiddos and put them to bed… Which is no easy task when they’re all hopped up on celebratory end-of-the-school-year root beer floats, let me tell you! I read. I sang. I wrestled. I tickled. I begged. It took me about thirty minutes, but after all that, and eventually the use of my stern grown-up voice, I got them to their respective rooms.

//SATURDAY//

I went out on the lake with my family and some of their friends today! My aunt and uncle have a ski boat, so we took it out to a lake about forty minutes away from their house called Lake Nacimiento. The lake was so gorgeous, and it was huge! There were so many little coves and fingers of the lake to explore, and little beaches here and there as well. Once we got the boat in the water, we took off towards somewhere to anchor for lunch and some swimming. My aunt drove the boat and I was so impressed that she did! It was so relaxing to sit back and watch the scenery go by, and to watch the wake behind us.

It took a couple of tries, but we found a good spot to have lunch. We actually beached the boat and had lunch and swam. It was a little too cold for me to swim, but I didn’t mind just eating and enjoying the lake. After lunch, we cleaned up the boat and set to sailing again. We did ski-training (which is like water skiing, but with an inflatable blow up thing instead of actual skis), wake-boarding, and tubing. Since I still wasn’t feeling 100%, I only took part in the tubing, but that was so much fun, too!

We left the lake at around dinnertime, and once we got back to the house I was so exhausted, as was everybody else! We had a low key dinner, and we watched the beginning of Rogue One afterward.

//SUNDAY//

I went to church with my aunt, uncle, and my cousins. The sermon was on Psalm 8 today, which I had never read or heard before! I enjoyed the message, and after picking up my one cousin from Sunday school, we went to Touch of Paso for lunch. I came prepared to take them out for a thank-you meal (to thank them for the trip), and so that’s where we decided to go! I had a waffle with strawberries, which was pretty good! I tried their fried zucchini, which was pretty kicking as well!

After lunch, I walked around Paso Robles with my aunt to do a little bit of shopping. My aunt made out pretty well with a cute blouse and a pair of shorts. I found a dress at Firefly that I was really tempted to get, but I decided not to get it at the last minute in order to save money for Grand Cayman and Stone Harbor. It was super cute, though!

We came back to the house to find that Tater (their dog) had gotten into a rose bush and cut the tip of her ear pretty badly. She was fine, but the wound was bleeding pretty profusely, and she was dripping all over the patio and the walkways in the yard. Later on, my aunt tried to bandage her up, and tape up her ear, but she just kept shaking it out, so we had to keep her outside, the poor thing!

My aunt and uncle had a family friend over for dinner, so we grilled fish and a portobello mushroom for me. We started a fire afterward, and made s’mores! I think I only have s’mores once or twice a year, so this was such a nice treat! After the family friend left, we watched more of Rogue One before I headed to bed.

//

Only one more Recap post in Cali… I can’t believe my trip to California is almost over! I leave on Thursday night and go through Phoenix again, where I take a red-eye to Philly (ughhh). I’m so excited to see my family again, and to go to Stone Harbor on that Saturday, but I’m really going to miss it here! I love California so much, and it has been such a great adventure 🙂

XOXO

L

Summer 2017 Workout Playlist!!

Hello Everyone!

During the summer, my main exercise that I do is running, since I’m home and I can run around our town. That, and it’s so easy to go running on vacation (ex. Running on the beach, etc.). I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find that  putting together a good playlist is crucial to a good workout/running session! I firmly believe that putting together a good playlist is an art… Just like Barney Stinson says about his “Get Psyched” playlist,”It should be all rise!” (If you can’t already tell, How I Met Your Mother has been my binge-watching show of the summer so far.) So, just like last year, I thought I would share it with you!

“Everyday” by Ariana Grande
“Paris” by The Chainsmokers
“Shout Out To My Ex” by Little Mix
“Something Like This” by The Chainsmokers and Coldplay
“Touch” by Little Mix
“Colors” by Halsey
“Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez
“Hair” by Little Mix
“Malibu” by Miley Cyrus
“Most Girls” by Hailee Steinfeld
“Stay” by Zedd and Alessia Cara
“Now or Never” by Halsey
“That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars
“Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran

I know what you’re thinking… This is definitely a Little Mix heavy playlist! I’ve been really into their music again lately. I go through phases with artists and groups that I’m obsessed with (as I’m sure everyone else does), and I went through a huge Little Mix kick a few years ago in high school. However, they have a lot of great new stuff out now, and those three songs “Hair,” “Touch,” and “Shout Out To My Ex” are my favorites.

If you want to check out my playlist, it is on my Spotify! My username is writerchic 🙂 Come follow me on there, and you’ll see all the weird stuff I like to listen to.

Also, if you were wondering, there are “Barney’s Get Psyched” playlists. If you’re as obsessed with How I Met Your Mother as I am. (I know I’m not the only one!)

Happy running and exercising, everyone!

XOXO

L

Weekly Recap: Cali Week One!

Hello everyone!

So, for the last week, I’ve kept a little bit of a journal of what I’ve done while in California! I thought that it would be nice for me to look back on in the future, and that you guys might appreciate it too 🙂 I’ve only recorded Tuesday though Sunday, since Monday was a part of my Memorial day weekend post.

//TUESDAY//

Today I went with my Aunt to help volunteer at my little cousin’s kindergarten class! I helped some of the kids do reading and spelling worksheets, crafts, and I even got to read to his class! It brought back so many memories of my own from kindergarten… It’s so cool to see how my little cousins are moving through life and grade school, just like I did not that long ago (in the grand scheme of things, anyway… It feels like forever for me!). After that, we went home and had lunch, and after letting my food settle, I went for another run around the development. After picking up my other little cousin from school, I watched both of the boys while my aunt and uncle were both out. Before bed, I had a nice long chat with my uncle, just catching up.

//WEDNESDAY//

I woke up to an empty house, and had my coffee and yogurt for breakfast. Then I went to Target to pick up some things that I had forgotten at home (finally, a hairbrush that isn’t carry-on size!). The shopping center with the Target is super nice, and has a Ross and an Ulta right next door. I had never gone to Ulta before, so of course I had to go check it out! I drooled over some palettes I can’t even think about buying right now! Then I looked after both of the boys until dinner time.

//THURSDAY//

Today was especially eventful! I went to a nearby town called Paso Robles with my aunt, and I explored the downtown area while she got her hair cut. First, I went to a coffee shop called Kruezburg Coffee Company, got a large americano and a veggie omelette. The omelette was good, but the americano was AH-MAZING. So, so good! Then I walked around town, and explored some of the shops right around the town square. Paso has a quaint little town square, and most of the boutiques are local businesses. A lot of the boutiques had funny sayings written on blackboards and set out on the sidewalk. I took pictures of some of my favorites and put them on my Insta Story.

I went into some of the cute little boutiques there, and most of them were SUPER expensive (like $360 dollars for a pair of pink mules that I could easily find at H&M expensive). But, there was one store that I went into that has super cute clothes at a fairly reasonable price, called Firefly! I got this off-the-shoulder patterned blouse on sale and I’m so excited about wearing it, or possibly styling it for a future blog post 🙂 That, and I got a cute, dainty pearl choker, too! I think the two pieces will go nicely together.

Then, after my aunt picked me up, we went to go pick up my little cousin from school, and we drove in the opposite direction, to San Luis Obispo. There, we went to lunch at a place called Luna Red. This restaurant was really cool because it had windows looking right out over a creek. That, and their tomato and tofu tacos were super delicious.

My aunt had another appointment to go to, so my cousin and I finished lunch, and went to an ice cream place called Cowboy Cookies & Ice Cream. I had oatmeal and chocolate chip ice cream. Little known fact about me, I LOVE oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, but they’re always super hard to fnd. So, this really hit the spot. My little cousin enjoyed it, too.

Then, we visited the Mission there in San Luis, which was beautiful. I didn’t get to see the santuary because we were short on time and my little cousin wasn’t too interested (he was more focused on his intent on going to a store with geodes and rocks), but I enjoyed what I got to see! We walked through some of the grounds and the museum section.

After visiting the rock store where Jackson drooled over colorful geodes, my aunt picked us up and we headed home. My aunt had to go to work after that, so I spent the rest of the day watching the kiddos.

//FRIDAY//

This morning, I went with my little cousin’s kindergarten class on a field trip to Cayucus Beach. My aunt drove me and one of her friends to the beach, and before going on our way we stopped at Starbucks, her treat, which was so thoughtful of her. I ended up getting an iced green tea, which was nice and refreshing to sip on while we winded our way through the mountains towards the beach. The drive was beautiful and very scenic, with rolling hills and mountains, with little peeks of ocean and lakes. Once we got to the beach, it was a little bananas since it was all of the kindergarten classes from that school, but it was so much fun to watch the kiddos run around and play in the sand (since they weren’t allowed to play in the water (not even “one toe,” lol). It was pretty chilly there at the beach, but the ocean was still beautiful as always. It was my first time in five years, seeing the pacific ocean, and I forgot how rocky the beaches were. It was a little foggy, but I got to see some of Morro Rock in the distance.

After we eventually left the beach, we drove back home for lunch. I had this fantastic salad from Trader Joe’s with roasted butternut squash, red quinoa, goat cheese (goat cheese is my fave!!), and some veggie burger that I added. It. Was. Amazing. Lancaster needs to step up their game and get a Trader Joe’s because I don’t think I can go through this life without that salad in it XD

//SATURDAY//

In the morning, I went to the farmers’ market in town with the family, which was so much fun! They have it all year round, and the produce is always so beautiful. I’ve gone before when I visited them last, but I forgot how big it was and how inexpensive produce was! I’m so jealous of Californians and their produce, honestly! I got the best cold brew coffee there too… which is surprising since I usually don’t like iced coffee!

I went to lunch with my aunt at a place called Fig in town, right across the street from the market. When I met her there, my aunt surprised me with a bouquet of flowers, to celebrate the fact that I found out that I had made the Dean’s List earlier that morning! I thought that was so sweet and thoughtful of her and my uncle 🙂 Fig is the cutest little place! I tried a breakfast wrap with lentils, eggs, and Moroccan spice, which was so good! It was fun to chat and catch up with her, while eating on the front porch of this beautiful wrap-around porch on the Victorian house that they made into the restaurant.

I went hiking with my uncle and my little cousins at Reservoir Canyon, which was strenuous and more challenging than I was expecting, but all in all an exciting and rewarding hike! It took about four hours in total to complete the entire hike, but that was also because my little cousins wanted to stop and explore some creeks and a waterfall on multiple occasions. At the top, there is a swing and a big, shady tree that we sat under, while we took in the incredible view of the rolling hills and mountains. The mountain scene was gorgeous, and I thought that it was so cool that someone put a swing at the top of the hike! My cousins had done the hike before and knew about it, so I think that it was good that we had something to look forward to at the end of a challenging hike.

I was so exhausted afterwards, that when we stopped on the way back home at a grocery store, I stayed behind in the truck to rest and close my eyes for five minutes. Then, we had In N’ Out, which I was super excited about because I had never been before! I looked them up online beforehand to see if they had any vegetarian options and found that they had a veggie burger. When we it it, I thought that it was funny because they didn’t use an actual veggie burger patty, just tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cheese, and their special dressing. I still enjoyed it and the fries, but that is definitely not what I was expecting, lol!

We swam in the pool after dinner, which was so refreshing after a long hiking day. At the end of the night, I was so exhausted that it felt so good to crawl into bed.

//SUNDAY//

I went to church with my aunt and my little cousins, and I enjoyed the service very much. We looked at the first Psalm, which I liked because I love the Psalms. I always find them so comforting. Then, my aunt left for work and I watched by little cousins for the remainder of the afternoon until my uncle came home from work for dinner. My cousin Matthew came up with the idea to put up a lemonade stand, so we cut up some lemons, threw them in sugar water, and set up camp. We were on a main road near their house and sold lemonade to about ten people, which was pretty successful for the boys, at 50 cents a cup. Some of the people were super generous as well, and gave them double or triple what they were asking, which I thought was so sweet.

Afterward, they went swimming and I watched them to make sure no one got hurt, and even though I didn’t swim, I still got pretty wet thanks to the super-soakers XD

////

I really enjoyed chronicling everything that I was doing this past week, so I think that I’m going to keep doing this instead of Weekend Recaps while I’m on vacation this summer! I love that I can share all that I’m doing, and I’m so grateful that I get to be out in Cali with my family!

I hope that you all had a great week, too! If you want, comment down below and share about your weeks, too! I would love to read it 🙂

XOXO
L