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?

November 6, 2017

Five Travel Apps You Need

If you intend to jet set this holiday season, take your smart phone and immediately download some apps! Whether it is a road trip, quick weekend getaway, or big trip, these apps will make you look like the most seasoned and prepared traveler.
Google Docs: This is not a traditional travel app, but hear me out. I use this on big trips. I put all my ideas into there and then create an itinerary. Doing it in Google Docs enables me to share it with others so they can add to it as well and know what my plans are.

Roadtrippers: For any US road trips, you can find scenic points of interests and roadside attractions.

Google Translate: This may be an obvious one, but this is a must especially when travelling in a foreign country. I love the feature where you can take a picture of a sign and it translates it for you!

WhatsApp/Allo: These apps are my favorite for messaging over wifi. This will save you from international text fees. More people are on WhatsApp so I have that, but Allo is Google's messaging system and I love it not only internationally, but just to text back and forth with friends here in the states. It is my favorite messaging platform.

Yelp: This may seem obvious, but it is a huge time saver when travelling and is great even in your hometown! Do note, that sometimes Yelp is not as used in some foreign countries as much as the states, but you can still find some gems to eat and drink at! Follow me on Yelp!

What are some of your favorite travel apps?

November 3, 2017

A Day In Milan

Milan is a beautiful modern city that I was absolutely enamored to visit. 

My favorite thing in Milan was the beautiful cathedral. The Duomo of Milan is the fifth largest cathedral in the world. It is an amazingly beautiful and absolutely stunning and unique.

Other things to see and do in Milan:

Finding ruins in the middle of the city were a fun surprise. The Colonne di San Lorenzo are 16 columns that are the remains of the Roman ruins that date back to the 2nd century. These are in front of the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio which is the oldest catholic church in Milan. 
After the cathedral, the reason people go to Milan is for the shopping. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele is amazing even if you can't afford the Italian designers. But if you can, do it and I am jealous.
Castello Sforzesco was built by the Duke of Milan. Now within there, there are museums and art collections.. Also located near the castle is the beautiful Sempione Park which is worth a wander through or a romantic picnic.
We also visited the business district which had the famous middle finger statue. I wonder whether this is truly temporary.
I did go inside the La Scala Opera house to look, but did not see a show there.

I did skip Santa Maria delle Grazie (where you find the Last Supper), but I am sure that would have been lovely.

This was more of a photo dump, but people always ask me where I stay and where I ate, so I will go through the list real quick. We stayed here. I wanted to explore and relax on the rooftop terrace which looked amazing from the pictures. Of course it was closed for some private event. Figures...but the location was nice. As for food, my favorite restaurant was Piz for lunch. The restaurant was crowded, but it was because the food and drink were truly yummy. Close to our hotel for dinner we went to Salsamenteria De Parma.

Thanks for a good time Milan!
What is your favorite part of Milan?

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