Saturday, June 27, 2020

St. George Getaway!

I'm recapping our short 2 night adventure to St. George today! Normally, every summer, we pack up and head to Oregon for a week or so in the summer. We all love a good road trip and seeing family. However, with Covid we decided to skip our annual Oregon getaway this summer. We are hoping we can go this fall, fingers crossed! However, when online school officially turned into summer, both AJ and I were itching to get out of town. We are still taking social distancing seriously and wanted a fairly contact-free getaway, in state, and preferibly a place where could lounge pool-side. I searched AirBnb and VRBO religiously in May and was able to score a cute little cottage in St. George with its own private pool (It was actually the guest house of a larger home).It was booked solid all summer except for the middle of last week. Done and done! 

We left mid-morning for the 4 hour drive and arrived in the afternoon. On the way from Salt Lake to St. George is a tiny town called Parowan where Meri from Sister Wives on TLC owns a Bed and Breakfast. It was all closed up, but yours truly insisted we stop and check it out. (In my defense, we did need a  gas stop anyway!)  

It was still a bit early to check out our place, so we drove around a bit and checked out this cool park I've heard about called Thunder Junction. Guys, this was the coolest place. It was WAY too hot at that time to let Hank play, but we did a quick stroll through and promised him we'd return the next morning. We found our rental, settled in, picked up some groceries like milk and drinks, ordered some amazing pizza from a place called Regattis, and then swam and played in the pool till bedtime! We brought some floaties and toys but the place also had all kinds of rafts and pool fun we could use. 

The next day we were up and at 'em early. I was a little nervous because Hank has only ever slept on vacation in a pack and play (it's Oregon grandparents) but he slept in bed with us and did just great. Whew! We wanted to get to Thunder Junction right when it opened to enjoy it with less crowds and less than 80 degrees. We learned you have until about 11 to be outside and then it's just too hot--like over 100! We stopped for coffee on the way at this cute cafe (thanks Yelp) and I had an oat milk hazelnut white chocolate cold brew (it was their special) and it was oh so delish. Hank had a great time and we rode the little train around the park. It was pretty quiet that early. We found another fun park with a playground and pretty gardens that we walked around and explored. 

We went into "downtown" St. George to check it out, but by then it was like noon and we were all tired and hungry. We came back to our cottage and had leftover pizza. We all laid down for naps, but yours truly proceeded to read for the next few hours! We headed back out to the pool and played and swam until dinner time. We picked up these amazing wraps from this place my friend Tracy told me about called Viva Chicken. It was soooo good! 
This statue made us laugh because Hank reads on his belly like that 

After our takeout dinner, we found a fun soccer park and Hank had a blast kicking his ball around and running. After the morning park adventure, swimming, and all that running, he was one tired toddler! We stopped on the way home at Rowley's Red Barn for ice cream. The perfect sweet ending to a super sweet day! The cottage had this cute shaded area with a hammock so when it cooled down a bit in the evening, I took advantage of the space for some quiet "me time!" Heaven! 

The next morning we went on a quick walk on a paved trail and then headed home---tan, tired, and happy. These covid days are so hard and with cases on the rise, it's super scary and uncertain. A little time away in the desert beauty was such a wonderful gift. We already can't wait to visit again! 

Savor Your Sparkle,

Monday, June 22, 2020

June Reads

It's book review time! Here's the thing: I know we're not quite at the end of the month, but the last 2 books I read this month were awful, so I'm throwing in the towel and diving into the last Harry Potter book now!
This month I read 6 books---one might even be one of my favorites for the year. At the end of this post, I am including my list of books I've read this year with stars by my faves. Here we go! 
Photo from The New Yorker 

1. Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crossley:
This book is marvelous. I read the Sloane's first book of essays, "I Was Told There'd Be Cake" as a senior in college and to this day, it's one of my favorite books. She's written another book of essays and novel too (I've read them all), but this one came across my radar on a Buzzfeed list of books to read during quarantine. This book is hilarious, dry, sweet, heartfelt, and best of all, thought provoking. If you like books of essays, this collection is a gem. She writes about her noisy teeneage neighbor, her hike in the Himalayas, freezing her eggs, meeting her porn star uncle and more. Somehow her daily life is both totally outrageous and also ordinary and relatable. One of her essays is about how her neighbor starts growing a vineyard, she writes, "The highest compliment bestowed upon fruit is that it tastes like candy. Pineapple gets this a lot. Raspberries. Starfruit's certainly sick of hearing it. What's meant to be a compliment to fruit is actually an insult to candy. I don't know what kind of Eastern bloc chalk pellets people have been eating, but grapes do not taste as awesome as candy. Except for these. They were like little clown cars of sugar and flavor. And they were accessible from my bathtub where I could reach my arm out, snap off a cluster, and knock my head back like a Greek goddess." See? Not about much but beautiful, funny prose anyway. This was a great read. 

2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling:
Those of you who are already on board the Potter train are like, "Girl, late to the party, much?" I know. I know. I'm finally getting around to reading these (my 2020 resolution). I don't even know what to say other than these books really are fantastic. It's so nice having a book where you can truly get lost in another world, and Hogwarts is a place I don't mind hanging out at. I feel the tension building and book 7 is in my hot little hand I can't wait to dive in and see how this all wraps up. The ending of this one was totally unexpected and I immediately had to text my Potter-loving pals to discuss. 

3. Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin:
This was my May Book of the Month club pick. This one is sort of Sex and the City meets Workin Moms meets The Nanny Diaries. So....I liked it! This is about a group of wealthy Manhattan moms and the young woman they hire to lead a music class with their toddlers. This one deals with marriage, class, race, friendship, drugs, motherhood, and the relationship between boss and employee. This one is a bit outrageous at times, but overall, it held my interest and the commentary in this one is much more thoughtful than it would seem on the surface. This one is definitely rated R! 

4. The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren:
This one was just so meh. It was cute but totally predictable and as far as chick lit goes, there are much better options out there. This is a short little book about a couple who are basically like Chip and Joanna Gaines. Their home goods empire is about to fall apart and must be saved by their assistants....who fall in love with each other. This book wasn't awful but very Hallmark movie-ish. 

5. Ghoster by Jason Arnopp:
Guys. I can only hope this is the strangest book I'll read this year. I can't remember how I found out about this one, but it's about a woman who's about to move in with her boyfriend but he suddenly goes missing and "ghosts" her. But then actual ghosts come onto the scene. Yeah. The ending of this one gets super sci-fi and while I was expecting a domestic thriller, it turned into something like Stranger Things. The over arching message here is that social media/device addiction can literally kill you, but it was seriously so cheesy it felt like a Goosebumps book. 

6. All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda:
I had high hopes for this one. Girls going missing? A small town loaded with secrets? Love traingles? Shady pasts? Sign me up! So why did I hate this book? Because I had NO CLUE what was going on! At page 50, I texted my sister, "When will this start to make sense?" At page 150, I went on Amazon to read the reviews. Until the very last page, I'm not sure I could tell you exactly the plot of this one. Maybe I read this too tired late at night, or maybe my comprehension skills needs some work, but I hate it when a book makes no sense and is really confusing. A huge part of the problem was that this book is told BACKWARDS. Like after each chapter, it'll say, "The Day Before..." so while I think that was meant to make it twisty and allows the reader to try and piece clues together, it just threw me for a loop. For those reasons, I'm out. 

I have a stack of books ready to go for the rest of the summer! Bring on the books! 

Savor Your Sparkle,

Here are my 2020 Books so far with stars by my faves---
1. The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg
2. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
3. *Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
4. Over the Top by Jonathan VanNess
5. *Teach Like Finland by Timothy D. Walker
6. The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield
7. *Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
8. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
9. *Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
10. Finding Chika by Mitch Albom
11. The Sundown Motel by Simone St. James
12. *Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
13. The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters
14. *Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
15. *True Crime Addict by James Renner
16. The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold
17. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
18. Rushing Woman's Syndrome by Libby Weaver 
19. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
20. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
21. *On the Bright Side by Melanie Shankle
22. *One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
23. The First Time by Colton Underwood
24. Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston 
25. *Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
26. *The Paris Hours by Alex George
27. The St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Annie England Noblin
28. *The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup
29. Girl Logic by Iliza Schlsinger
30. *Harry Potter and the Half Bloos Prince by JK Rowling
31. *Look Alive Out There by Sloane Crossley
32. *Happy and You Know It by Laura Hankin
33. The Honey Don't List by Christina Lauren
34. Ghoster by Jason Arnopp
35. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Monday, June 15, 2020

Life Lately

Hi Friends,
    I have a Life Lately post for you today. I saw a quote this week that said, "When historians come forward to study 2020, they'll need to specialize in just a quarter at a time because so much is going on." That is some truth right there. I know it's a time of so much heartache and anxiety in the world. Prayer and thoughts must be coupled with action to make lasting change. 

This week was Hadley's 4th birthday. I can hardly believe it. It's always a hard day. We spent time looking through Hadley's photos, lighting her special candle, and visiting her. This year was unique because Hank really understood that it was Hadley's birthday and for the first time he could understand what the day was about. The pain is less raw than it was in years past but in so many ways, it gets harder too. AJ and I had no idea how much we were missing out on. Watching Hank grow and change, and laughing and learning with him everyday makes me miss Hadley even more and wonder what she would be like. 

We went on a family adventure last week to Payson Lakes. It was gorgeous! We walked around once with Hank just walking and then we did it 2 more times with Hank in the stroller. It was only about an hour or so away and such a gorgeous spot. And bonus, it wasn't crowded at all! I would love to go back and bring something to float on! It's been fun exploring new places in our beautiful state! 

They were adding fish to the lake while we were there. It was the weirdest thing to see all these fish come flopping out of a truck, but Hank sure thought it was cool. 

Here are some other random moments from Life Lately.
Chef Hank helped me make homemade pizza! 
I ordered a strand of felt balls on our shiplap piece and love that little pop of color. Also, did you know Etsy has approximately 834034820 felt ball shops? 

Have you eaten at Seven Brothers (in Saratoga Springs for you locals)? We LOVE their food and discovered a fun local park closeby where we can chow down.

A beautiful rainbow after a whole weekend of rain a few weeks ago. Gorgeous. 

This is a coffee shop I heard about from my sister, the gal behind the blog, UT Caffeine Queen
           This drink is called the Campfire Cold Brew and it is a delight! That's whipped marshmallow cold                 foam on it. Yesssss. It's like 20 minutes away and I pass multiple coffee shops on the way, but               sometimes Hank and I just need to hit the open road and listen to some TSwift, ya know? 
I found this mini trampoline for a steal on KSL. It's been super fun! 

We are enjoying these slower days (well, AJ has a busy week this week as he is grading AP test essays from home and I'm trying to keep Hank away from his workspace) and hoping we can return to school safely in the fall. It's so strange to me because we are on covid "level"  yellow, but cases are higher than ever. It seems that people are sort of willing it all to be over. I will say, we are finding more ways to live with it and are trying to get more creative with social distancing as the weather allows. I've had picnics with friends, gone on walks with other moms, we've gotten together with friends outdoors, AJ's family is coming to visit next month, I got a pedicure with a mask, we went to the Farmers Market, etc. I'm still very wary of activities with lots of people and I'm still making an effort to stay away from any crowds. I'm so totally sick of it, but I know now is the time to be vigilant. Right now is the time to make good choices that will help the numbers in the coming weeks. It's tough because there's a guilt element with covid, like, if you get it, "What did you do? Where did you go??" Hank had a  slight 12 hour fever a few weeks ago and I panicked thinking, oh my goodness, have I gotten too lax? He was fine literally by the same afternoon, but nothing like a pandemic to get mom guilt firing on all cylinders! It's hard to know what's right, what's reckless, what's worth worrying about, and what are the things I can do to be a responsible member of my community without losing my mind.

 I need to remember that while diseases are random predators in a sense, there are still things we can do to try and help prevent it. This is all hard and new, guys. Don't hesistate to give yourself some grace and you don't need my permission but I'm giving it to you anyway, to tell your toddler that "The aquarium is still being cleaned so we can't go. It's really dirty I guess. Sharks don't seem like tidy creatures, buddy." (The aquarium is totally open I just don't feel comfortable going yet). What a time to be alive, friends. (tongue out emoji with one eye closed....I've been using that one a lot lately).  In other news, I have been reading up a storm this month and cannot wait to share my reads with you on the blog later this month!! 
Have a beautiful week. 
Savor Your Sparkle & Wear Your Damn Mask,