December 29, 2017

Intentional Wishes for 2018

With the start of the new year comes a lot of blog posts on resolutions. Naturally, I have been thinking a lot about my own goals for the new year.

I don't know that I will write down a list of resolutions this year. Despite being a goal oriented, list lover, I want 2018 to be more about intention and cultivating a lifestyle that makes me happy.

We have been lucky enough to travel to some awesome places in 2017 -  Utah in February, Colorado in March, Zion/Bryce/Grand Canyon (North and South)/Horseshoe Bend/Antelope Canyon in May, Canada in July, Wyoming in August, England and Scotland in September, and Chiracahua National Monument in November have to be some of our highlights! I can't wait to plan more travel in the coming year! Whether that will be by hoping on a plane somewhere new and exciting or taking a mini adventure on weekend breaks. When I embrace adventure, big or small, that is when I truly feel happy, connected, and relaxed. 
In 2018 I want to continue to have less stress and more joy. I want to continue to feel focused, productive, and inspired.

I don’t know about you, but I learn and grow and change so much throughout a year. In 2017 I have discovered so much about myself, who I am, want is most important to me, and also grown so much as a person too. I feel so much more settled, self-aware, and connected to what matters most, and I know that this is only the starting point. I am so excited to experience all of the lessons the new year has to bring!

These are my intentions.
What are yours?

December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas To You!

Christmas is here and I am working. Whenever I work a holiday, it never fails to remind me how thankful I am. I am thankful for my health, my career, my family, my home, and carbs. Let's be real. Today will be all about the carbs for me. A big salute to everyone else working hard this holiday season! My husband and I wish you the best holiday season!

December 22, 2017

Magic Cookie Bars

I have said this before, and I will say it again...Christmas is the most magical time of the year! As I write this post in front of my Christmas tree, I am reminded of the reason for the season...Magic Cookie Bars! ;-)

I force myself to only make these at Christmas time because it is probably my favorite dessert ever. You can see how this could be a problem for me.

I got this recipe from my mom. She has made them for as long as I can remember. It was always a treat around the holidays to get a Magic Cookie Bar. Now she makes them and freezes them so she has them on hand for the entire holiday season (who wants to be chained to their kitchen more than they already are during the holidays). Best of all, if you take a frozen bar out, it takes 5-10 minutes max to thaw on the counter.


1/2 cup of butter, melted
1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1 (14 ounce) can of sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1 cup of chopped walnuts
cooking spray


Preheat oven to 350 degrees for metal pans and 325 for glass. Coat a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray.

Combine the butter and graham cracker crumbs and press evenly into pan. Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture.

Layer with chocolate chips, coconut, and walnuts. Press down firmly with a fork.

Bake for 25 minutes or until slightly browned. Let cool and then cut into bars. Store covered at room temperature or frozen for up to 6 months.

What is your favorite dessert?
What tricks do you use to ensure you do not eat eleventy billion of your favorite foods?

December 18, 2017

Soledad Canyon Loop

Growing up in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the Organ Mountains have always been a beautifully unique backdrop to the city. Heck, I even got married with them in the background! I have also loved exploring all the hiking trails the mountains have to offer. Recently in 2014, the area was made into a National Monument: Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument (longest monument name ever!) I had mainly really only explored the Dripping Springs areas (here and here), but finally, I went back and was able to do a hike in one of the flagship areas that I had never done before, Soledad Canyon.

For such an easy hike, I was rewarded with some really cool scenery.

Soledad Canyon Loop
3.4 miles RT | 1.25 hours | 689 feet | Easy

There is a part that off shoots off of the loop. Take it. You will dead end into some boulders and (depending on water level) a waterfall. Perfect place to stop for a picnic!

Happy Monday!

December 15, 2017

Horseshoe Bend

Want to go to one of the most popular sites in the United States? Horseshoe Bend is your place. It has grown in popularity and one look at a photo of this place and you can see why. For someone who can't take pictures and doesn't know how to edit, you know that what I take is literally not even as truly amazing as it is in person.
Horseshoe Bend is located about 5 miles south of the Glen Canyon Dam. It is the first turnoff as you head south of Page, Arizona on Highway 89 towards Flagstaff and Phoenix.
 The trail is an easy 1.5 mile round trip hike. It took us 10-15 minutes of walking to reach the Horseshoe Bend view point. Most of it is in sand, which isn’t fun, but overall the hike is very easy.
 You will be rewarded with a view of the Colorado River as it makes a dramatic turn which leads to amazing views 1,000 feet above the canyon floor.
You can literally walk right up to the end of the canyon. I tend to be a bit over confident in my approach to the edges. My husband has a heart attack when I do so. To spare you and your loved ones, I do not recommend following in my example.

Have you ever been to Horseshoe Bend?

December 11, 2017

Chiricahua National Monument

So remember how I said that I took Kevin for a day outdoors to celebrate his birthday? Well we went to Chiricahua National Monument and it was totally beautiful!

We hiked an easy loop, but I picked it because I knew it had the classic views Chiricahua National Monument has to offer. But there are so many trails I cannot wait to come back and explore. 

A little background on this monument: first off, it is super amazing. Chiricahua National Monument is on the Arizona side of the Arizona/New Mexico border. It is known as "A Wonderland of Rocks." And it truly is! Seeing as Bryce Canyon National Park is one of my favorites, it was no coincidence that I love Chiricahua National Monument. The hoodoos here are not the bright orange, but instead complex with hints of brown, green, white, and orange. There are a also a couple of balancing rocks. All are rhyolite rocks. This is because the preserves are a remainder of a volcanic eruption 27 million years ago.

Another reason you should go here is that no one was there! We went and we ran into less then a handful of people. The place was deserted and while fun for us, such a shame because it is such a beautiful area. We had to use our tripod the entire time! Not a soul in sight!

Massai Nature Trail/Echo Canyon Trail Loop
3.7 miles RT | 3 hours | 658 feet | Easy

This was the only hike we had time for during our visit. I knew that this hike would not be fast because with the beauty around you, you are naturally drawn to stop and look. I had to pick my mouth up off the ground a couple of times. We ended up taking this hike clockwise. After doing it, we decided that for the views, we would recommend people take it counterclockwise. It will take you through all the amazing formations that Chiricahua is known for!

Have you ever been to Chiricahua National Monument?
If you are a fan of Bryce Canyon you should go!

December 8, 2017

Five on Friday: Fall Edition

Whenever I have a million things I am loving right now, I have to compile them all into a Five on Friday post. Honestly this probably could have been broken up into a few different posts, but I hope you don’t mind that this one is a little longer than normal. It was a fun Thanksgiving holiday season!

It was our fourth annual Friendsgiving celebration. As always it was full of good food, friends, and laughs.
We were able to spend the holiday with our families and I wouldn't have it any other way!
My in-law's dog making sure the turkey wasn't going to go anywhere.
Meanwhile, at my parent's house, my mother always puts together the most beautiful table:
My Husband and Sister's Birthdays
We drove back home from our families that day, but I knew I wanted to do something fun and special with him on the day of his birth. I'll save what we did for another post, but we did get to celebrate with his and mine parents. We also celebrated my sister's birthday. She is just the most amazing girl ever! I have no idea why all my photos of this trip are all blurry!
More Birthdays
I was also able to go visit my best girlfriend and celebrate her birthday a couple of days late.
Weekend Plans
Last weekend I had a great weekend at home. I went and worked out, decorated for Christmas, and enjoyed a whole weekend off. Does anyone else cherish these homebody weekends like me? I love my home when it is done up for the holidays!

Now birthday central is over!
Bring on Christmas!

December 4, 2017

Christmas Shopping: Tips and Tricks

I am not a person who will go out and shop on Black Friday, but I do love getting my gifts done for people as early as possible. There are always gift swaps and things that need to be done before the holidays and I just hate feeling that jolt of too many things to buy and do with too little time. Plus, who likes to rush? I love gift giving. I love finding something meaningful, special, and perfect for the person I am giving a gift to. Gift giving is a way to express love and gratitude.

Here are my top tips for finding the perfect gifts for all the people on your list!
Start early: I start looking for things when I am shopping and pick up things that I think others would like. It helps to spread out your shopping for other people over time.

Create a list: Who has what gifts and what they cost so I can see as it gets closer if I am within budget and who/what else I need to plan for. When you account for cost, I count the shipping as part of the cost.

Keep wrapping stuff in one place: Save boxes and stuff and place them in an organizer bin and it can be a designated area to help keep you organized during the season.

Keep it under wraps under the tree: Wrap your gifts and  put them under the tree to enjoy! It is the perfect place to store gifts. (until I have kids that is, then I will have to rethink my strategy.)

Use your favorite sites: I love getting things off of Amazon. It is a great site and with Prime shipping, it works for me. I also use CamelCamelCamel to price out and buy things I am looking at while they are at their lowest price.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for getting all your Christmas shopping done?

November 27, 2017

My Smart Home

It is a special day! It is my husband's birthday! He is a techie and so when his birthday just happens to fall on Cyber Monday, I have to let him have free rein. I know he will use this gift to by himself some more stuff for our home. He loves creating a smart home. I get to be the beneficiary of this hobby. Awesome! Happy Birthday! 

There are so many ways to create a smart home. You can do it through smart TVs, smart lights, and smart appliances. Some are more common than others, so I figured I throw some ideas out there that can help you create a smart home. Note, that I use all of these items. No one has sponsored me to say any of these things (not that I wouldn't mind that!) But the common thread in our smart home journey has been Amazon Alexa. We have her entire line and it has been a game changer!

Although if my husband reads this blog post I am doing, he will probably laugh. Technology and products are advancing so quickly, that some of this may not be the best choice out there any more. :-)

Smart Husband
The absolute most important thing I have in my home is him. I plan to spoil him as much as I can today. He is the light of my life and the smartest person I know. Happy Birthday to him! 

Smart Lights
This is my favorite part of a smart home! It is my lazy dreams come through. You get smart light switches and you can turn them off and on with your phone or with a device. Our Z-wave switches go through Wink Relay and that goes through Alexa.

Smart Remotes
It is like a personal robot assistant living in your screen just waiting for a command. Since I don't have cable I have ventured into RokuTablo, and Plex for my TV needs and boy are they awesome! This remote has been great for programming all this. We can now also tell Alexa to turn on the TV! So cool!

Smart Thermostat
This was one of the first gadgets we had. It is so great because it saves you money, energy, and it is very convenient! We have always adjusted our Nest on the app, but now with our Alexa we can tell her to adjust the temperature as well.

Smart Locks
You can access your home wirelessly though your phone. There are smart locks for doors and garage doors. I suppose the most important takeaway is...don't lose your phone! Have a guest arriving before you get home? You can give them access without a key too, just use your phone!

Smart Kitchen
Wait, you said five simple ways to create a smart home. This is number six! Well bonus to you if you have a smart husband, but smart appliances are also a cool smart home feature. In my next home, I would love to be able to tell my Alexa to turn on and off my oven. It is possible and I am so ready for it!

Are you in the process of making your house a smart home? 
What other smart features do you love?

November 17, 2017

Five On Friday!

I often do Five on Friday when I have quick blurbs for you. These past couple of weeks have been some sort of busy! And I love it! This week I basically did nothing but work. It has been one of those weeks! But, without further ado, here are the five things that I have been obsessing over this week…

We went to an awards ceremony for my husband and it was so fun to feel fancy! And with a beautiful sunset to boot! Check out this beautiful pic my husband captured!
Who doesn't love a good and simple baked good? I absolutely love following Christina at Carolina Charm and made her Easy Pumpkin Bread. All it is is Spice Cake Mix mixed with pumpkin. I did add one egg and it is truly easy, pumpkin-y, and moist. A must try this fall season!

I am loving the weather starting to cool down. I have been able to complete some nice hikes with my girlfriend and with my husband's family. I can't wait for more! Arizona's time of year is "fall/winter". And when I mean cooling down, I mean it is highs in the will get even better from here!

Blackett's Ridge
5.7 miles RT | 2-2.5 hours | 1,797 feet | Hard
A truly amazing and fun hike in Sabino Canyon. Short but steep. From the parking lot, walk over to the Bear Canyon trailhead. Shortly after you start the hike you will come to a paved tram road, turn right and walk along the paved tram road until you come to a small building, cross the bridge to your right and start out along the Phoneline trail. Then you will see the trail head sign for Blackett's Ridge Trail.
Sabino Lake, Creek Trail, Rattlesnake Trail, and Esperero Trail
4.1 miles RT | 1-1.5 hours | 285 feet | Easy
This combo of trails was a nice easy beautiful nature walk. We were even lucky enough to see Coati!
I feel like I was the last person to watch the Beauty and the Beast remake. It was so good! But there is actually one more person who hasn't seen it and that is my dear husband. I will absolutely re-watch with him. So good!

Oh and Stranger Things. Last to the party, but on season two now and am totally in love with this amazingly talented cast of kids!

A couple weeks ago was Pharmacist's Week and I am lucky to work with some amazing pharmacists so of course I had to do something small to thank them! Peanut M&Ms are the best!

Hope everyone has an amazing weekend!

November 10, 2017

Day Trip To The North Rim Of Grand Canyon National Park

Never having visited the Grand Canyon and living in Arizona, I finally did it with my husband for our five year wedding anniversary. In stark contrast to the South Rim, we opted to do less hiking and more vistas.

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is incredible, but the North Rim has some incredible, awe inspiring views. The colors on this side of the canyon are more rich and vibrant. The North Rim viewpoints also really made me realize how huge and deep the Grand Canyon really is. Very vast. There were also less people there so WIN!

Bright Angel Point
0.7 miles RT | 0.5 hours | 115 feet | Easy
Paved and you enter from the back porch of the Grand Canyon Lodge (right next to the Visitors Center). You can see all the way to the South Rim from here.

Cape Royal
1 mile RT | 0.75 hours | 92 feet | Easy
After passing the Park Entrance, drive until you reach a fork in the road. Instead of heading straight toward the Visitor Center, turn left and follow the road for 5.4 miles. At this point, you will reach the “Y” intersection. Turn right and follow the road for another 14.5 miles to the very end until you reach the large parking area for the Cape Royal Trail. Only 20 minutes of the 45 we were there we were moving, trust me, you will want to take a lot of pictures from Cape Royal and the off shoot view of Angel's Window.

Coconino Overlook
1.5 miles RT | 1.5 hours | 712 feet | Easy
The turnoff for the North Kaibab Trailhead is where you want to go and it is along the road to the Visitor Center and Lodge)

Point Imperial
0.1 miles RT | 0.25 hours | 0 feet | Easy
This is the highest viewpoint on both the North and South Rims. After passing the Park Entrance, drive until you reach a fork in the road. Instead of heading straight toward the Visitor Center, turn left and follow the road for 5.4 miles. At this point, you will reach the “Y” intersection. Take a left here and drive for another 2.6 miles until the road ends at the Point Imperial parking area.) An excellent view point to spend some time ooohhhing and ahhhhing.

Do you prefer the views from the North or South Rim of the Grand Canyon?
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