Thursday, July 28, 2016

Things I Overhear My Husband Say While Playing Video Games vol. 2

Read about the genesis of this post idea and volume 1 here. M plays Xbox Live so he talks to other people who are playing the same games with him. That is important to remember.

"Okay, well I'm gonna teleport out."
The preferred method of transportation, obvs.

"I made a goblin shadow priest." 
As opposed to a ghost light devil.

"I killed the sh*t out of those three wizards!"
Wait, I thought wizards were good?! At least in Harry Potter they are, right?

"Yeah, she's been watching RuPaul's Drag Race marathon all day. "
He was referring to me. For whatever reason. Also the shade implied "marathon all day". I'll cut him.

[After I hear a pre-pubescent male's voice talking to my husband.]
Me: "Um...are you playing video games with children? Is that allowed? Feels illegal."
M: "It's fine. He's kicking my butt anyway."

"I didn't have time to switch to invisible mode."
Me neither.

"I just got killed by a chainsaw."
What a way to go, man.

Monday, July 25, 2016

The Tale of the Trees

Our townhome is the very end unit at the back of the neighborhood. So, basically, we butt up to trees and trees and trees. That was one of the biggest selling features of the house for's quiet and you have nature right next to it. :)

We've been in the house a year and a month and have really loved the treeline and the quiet that comes with living next to the woods.

Well that all ended this weekend when, save for a 6 foot deep strip of vegetation, the woods were all cut down. Starting at 7 am Saturday morning, we heard loud machinery right beside the house and saw that they were pulling down the trees!

Back story, we knew that someone had bought the adjacent land to build a series of "fancy garages" (garages for boats, expensive cars and other luxuries the rich people around us want but don't want to keep at their house) but we were assured there would be some of the trees left in between our house and the garages.

Well "some of the trees" equated to about an 6 foot deep swatch of vegetation and some trees. All of these gorgeous, old, HUGE pines and hardwoods were cut down. To add insult to injury, after they spend the entire day cutting down the trees, they proceeded to mulch most of them.

We can now see the entire lot and the road about 100 yards away. And it has honestly changed the appearance of our building upon approach. Once, dwarfed by gigantic trees, our house now sticks out and looks large and weird.

The beautiful trees are gone. I was almost sick to my stomach on Saturday as I listened to them being cut down. M told me to start thinking about some of the positives that could come out of this. "At least it's not a neighborhood going in that close," he said, This is true. That would mean children and loud people to contend with. Thankfully, we just have the occasional yuppie that goes to get their Porche Boxter or RV out of the garage. "At least you don't have to worry about watching Hewitt with the hawks and coyotes around," he said, This is also true. We have a gorgeous (albeit deadly) red-tailed hawk that lived in those trees and our neighbors have seen coyotes before so I was always on the lookout when Hewitt was outside at certain times of the day/night.

So, I guess there are some positives to this. I'm trying hard not to be really bummed about it. The proximity of the trees are one of the reasons we bought the house...and though we aren't staying here forever, it was certainly a great selling point. Now? Well, we have no idea how it's going to end up over there in that now empty lot. We'll just have to wait and see.

For now, I'm trying to be positive. And this is a start...

The heavy woods would have blocked this gorgeous sunset from view. So, now the thinned-out woods makes for a gorgeous photo opp. That's the one positive for now. Give me some time...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer Hiking in Canada - Complete Packing List

Man are y'all tired of hearing about my trip to Banff yet? Sorry not sorry. I am beyond excited. I found out 2 coworkers went this year (one with family and one for business) and fell in love with Banff so hearing from them and seeing their photos just made me even more excited.

As I've been preparing my packing list, I've done a whole lot of "Googling" to make sure I take everything I need. This is a climate I've never been to before so I am relying on the trusty Internets to help out. The only problem is there aren't really a whole lot of people that have published packing lists. (not surprised) For a start, many people who visit Banff are native Canadians...and they know their weather already and the others either are men (sorry, but not helpful really) or going in the winter. Thankfully, I did manage to find a few and adjusted my packing list accordingly.

This packing list is a more complete one. I kept the details to a minimum so I could include everything. To see a more detailed wardrobe packing list I posted, click here.

Summer Vacation Hiking Canada Packing List

I still need to purchase a few things like the bear spray/bell and trekking poles. For the hikes, I've heard that trekking poles are a lifesaver so we'll be on the hunt for some between now and then. I also need to get a larger camera case. Since I got my new camera, it doesn't fit in my old case. Booo...

Less than one month and I'll be in the land of turquoise waters and cascading mountainscapes. I'll just leave you with some Banff beauty shots for your Friday!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bucket List Update (Because I'm "In My Thirties")

Almost five years ago I posted my bucket list. Looking back it now I just want to say, "Poor April. You have no idea where life will take you. Bless." HAHA. But seriously, some of the items on my bucket list from 2011 would still be on there today and others...not so much.

So in the spirit of "because I'm in my thirties" (I'm 31 for the record) I'm serving you some updated bucket list realness...

Left side is the original bucket list and the right side is the updated list. Some of the items previously included literally made me scratch my head...why would I ever put that on there? So you'll notice some of the items have been changed.

Comments: I have zero desire to ever go on a cruise. Being trapped and surrounded by the mercy of the waves and ocean? No thank you. I also have no desire why I put be a redhead on there. I did it, yes, but it wasn't a bucket list item. I modified my "live on a large body of water" to "living near a body of water". :)  Also, no idea why I put Visit San Diego on there. Nothing against SD, but I have no desire to visit there...except for the zoo, which is amazing. I think that was my original line of thinking so I updated to say all the major U.S. zoos. Because zoos are my jam.

Another befuddler is bake a loaf of bread. WHYYYYYYY is that on there? I have no idea. So I updated to a more normal one of "See the Northern lights." I probably won't have a chance to see them in Banff but I will definitely try.

Do you have a bucket list? Do we share any items in common?? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Cleaning Up My Personal Products: Lipstick

For awhile I've been on this Mother Earth/Vegan/Clean kick with certain things I use. I'm still contemplating going pollo vegetarian...more on that later.

But I have been making a concerted effort to "clean" up my makeup, hair and skin products. I have makeup on my face sometimes 15-16 hours a day and I wash my hair every other day (usually) so it makes sense that I try to make some of my workhorse products greener, cleaner and more natural.

First, off, I decided to try lipstick. A note on me and lipstick...I've been wearing some form of lip product since the 6th grade. I remember my first (and last) experiment with metallic silver lipstick in 1997...bless. Anywho, I'm a lipstick girl. So, this was my first foray into more natural makeup.

Conveniently, I'd been dealing with what I'd describe as a lip allergy. My trusty standby lipstick started making my lips swell and chap and they became extraordinarily dry. I tried a couple other back up lipsticks but they all irritated my lips like crazy. Even my beloved Bobbi I decided I needed to find something natural without all the parabens, sulfates anphthalates and it's also vegan. It was the highest rated lipstick I found, so I slipped out to my local Sephora on my lunch break (did I tell y'all I work across the street from a mall?) and bought a tube. (Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Sake)

I exclusively started using this along with Aquaphor lip therapy when I wasn't wearing lipstick around the house for 3 weeks. And guess what? My lip issues pretty much stopped. No more chapped or swollen lips. Imagine that! 

I've since introduced another natural, vegan lipstick from Arbonne (Arbonne Smoothed Over lipstick in Rose) and that has also not had any reactions. So, yeah, the girl that used to own hundreds of lip products now has 4: the Aquaphor Lip Therapy, Arbonne Lipstick, Bite Beauty Lipstick and Fresh Sugar Lipgloss...verdict still out on this too.

So far, so good with these. Have you tried to use any natural makeup or lip products?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Things that Make Me Rage (Office Edition)

Some things have just been bubbling up inside of me over the last two weeks.

Rule breakers. Nothing fills me more with rage than coworkers who park in the visitor spots at my office. We know your car! You've been asked multiple times to not park there and you still do. Or not using the PTO calendar when you are going to be out of town so everyone on the team knows not to expect you that day. RAGE.

angry mad little rascals crush can classic

Loud people. You sit in a cube. Yet you talk on the phone like the person is sitting across the room from you. Yelling. Loudly laughing. And I now know literally everything you are working on and every personal issue you are having. RAGE.

mad kristen wiig annoyed maya rudolph rbf

Tech noises. This might be the worst offender as of late. People that leave their phone on ringer during the day should have their eardrums ripped out. All day I hear dings and rings and beeps from all of your cell notifications. Also, your computer sounds are turned up so high I can hear every time someone sends you an IM or email. RAGE. RAGE. RAGE.

Team Giphy angry upset mad orange is the new black

Oatmeal raisin cookies. The worst of all cookies because they are so often mistaken for a delicious chocolate chip. Get behind me, Satan! (followed closely by the second worst...Macadamia Nut Cookies) I get this isn't necessarily office related but we often have catered lunch in the office and picking up an oatmeal raisin when you think you've scored a chocolate chip is an utterly hopeless feeling.

Angry Birds angry mad movie kids

Bullcrappers. You know who I'm referring to. The people that work really hard to make others think they are working really hard but are actually useless and unproductive. The fact that no one else sees that makes me rage. RAGE!

angry hate michael scott i hate you i hate so much about the things that you choose to be

Basic Jerks. Yes, I get it. We are all busy. The corporate world is dog-eat-dog and I get it. But everyone has enough human decency to smile, maybe speak to someone in the elevator or breakroom and not just avoid and be silent. Or worse...pretend to be on their phone and avoid conversation. Get your head out of your butt for 10 seconds and be pleasant and kind. Kindness goes a long way.

angry 30 rock liz lemon fired youre fired

Happy Monday! :)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Western Canada Wardrobe Packing List

I know all of you are probably getting tired of hearing about our upcoming trip to Banff. Well, I'm sorry but you are going to have to endure it for a few more months...we leave August 19th!

I'm a super-planner. So naturally, when it comes to an international vacation in a climate I've never been to that has pretty unpredictable weather, there are many lists involved. At the moment I have a packing list, itinerary list, budget list and an activities list all for this trip. Yeah...

The hard part about planning a trip to the Western Canada area in the summer is that the weather can change pretty dramatically. We could have nearly 70 degree temps on the ground and then be closer to 50 degrees on mountains or at higher elevations. Night temps can drop to the 40s and it often can be both rainy and sunny in the same day. Needless to say there are a lot of factors that go into packing. Here's what I'm planning to take...

banff packing list

I need a variety of hiking friendly (outdoor friendly) outfits and some slightly dressier ones for dinners in Banff. My daytime attire will consist of some combination of long sleeve shirt, t-shirt, tank top and a piece of outerwear. (I'm bringing 2 vests, 1 light jacket, 1 fleece jacket and a rain jacket.) I'll be wearing workout leggings for most of our hiking days. I am hoping this will work.

Footwear will be hiking shoes, athletic shoes, flip flops and a pair of flats for dinners in town. Also, some good moisture-wicking athletic socks!

I'll also bring a couple of nicer tops or cardigans and a pair of jeans to wear in town. Finally, there will also be a few tank tops I can layer for hiking or wear under the cardigan or nicer tops. They are multi-functional.

Of course I'm bringing lots of other things like a backpack and gear, but that's for another blog post. So now, my questions...have any of you traveled to cooler climates like Western Canada and hiked? Will I be okay with workout leggings? That's my real concern. I can layer like nobody's business but if the pants are all wrong I'm screwed! Any advice?

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Insta-Outfits v.7

It's time for another round up of Instagram outfits. The title is a bit misleading though because two of these outfits didn't make it to Instagram for whatever reason. So you get genuine NEW material here on TSF. :) I gives the peoples what zey wants.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Five Ways to Vacation on a Budget (and Without Accruing Debt)

via Unsplash

Everyone loves vacations, right? A chance to step away from work and other responsibilities for a period of time and just relax? Count me in!

I'm a firm believer that everyone should take some form of a vacation AT LEAST once a year. Not only is it good for your mental health, it's good for your physical health, your relationships and many other things.

My work is so adamant about taking vacation that they won't allow you to cash in your accrued Paid Time Off. You have to take it as vacation and it's to keep workaholics from working all the time with no break. (no breaks = burned out employees that aren't functioning efficiently)

But vacations can be expensive! Right? Or, are they?

As the self-proclaimed Queen of The Deal, I'm going  to share with you some tips for planning vacations without going into debt.

one. Consider a Staycation
If funds are really tight and a hotel or airfare isn't in the budget, consider a staycation. Be a tourist in your own hometown area. I've done this a few times and it's amazing how many really cool things are in my area. Try new restaurants or new attractions that you'd ordinarily never do. You're saving money in the long run because you are staying at your own house and not shelling out for a hotel. And don't limit yourself to your city either. Where I live I'm about 2 hours from the mountains of NC and 3 hours from the beaches of SC so either could feasibly be a day trip. Check out your local visitor's bureau website and look at your city like a new tourist would to get ideas.

two. Plan Ahead
I'm a planner, so vacations for me are never a last minute thing. I like to plan trips well in advance. Just yesterday, M and I were discussing our vacation plans for the next 2 years. You're doing yourself a dis-service by planning last minute (and last minute reads to me as 4 months or less before you go). By planning maybe a year in advance, you're able to monitor things like travel rates (the fluctuation). You can also plan to visit at a less expensive time of the year if you do a little research. Doing research will also allow you to save and budget...which brings me to...

three. Save Extra Money
Our trip to Banff this summer, while cheaper than the same amount of time in Jackson, Wyoming (or original destination) isn't "cheap". We still have to shell out for flights, hotel, meals, rental car, etc. In order to afford this trip, we started socking away all of our "extra" money we get. When we started planning this trip, we knew it would be more an expensive trip than we normally take to local beaches so we decided we'd save EVERY EXTRA BIT of money we got between then and the trip. For us, that meant saving our tax refund, extra money I make from singing on the side, M's bonuses from work. This gives us a good base to work with. I then started saving a little extra from what I normally deposit into my savings account for our trip. By the time we travel in August, we'll should be covered! And this is NOT easy. It's hard to get a windfall and put it in the bank, but it will be so worth it when we can take the trip of our dreams!

four. Consider Traveling Companions
If there are other couples or friends/family you'd be okay traveling with, try planning a trip with all of you! You can share in costs for things like rental cars, hotels, etc. and it's just more fun to have travel companions! Plus you have someone to take photos of you! :)

five. Travel to Visit Family and Friends
Do you have friends or family that live in or near places you'd like to visit? Go visit them! Maybe you've got a cousin outside of Miami or an aunt in Seattle. Plan to visit these people and tack on some touristy things to do around them. They may even know of some cool places to see and visit since they are local. Take advantage of not having to pay for lodging/some meals and do things you may never do on a vacation like get a massage or see a show! Just make sure you take your host/hostess out for a nice dinner as a thank you.