Thursday, July 31, 2014

Five Things Thursday: Best of the West

Hello out there! How was everyone’s July? Mine was awesome, mostly because of the couple weeks I spent chillaxing and catching up with family and friends in California. From Nor Cal to So Cal, Disneyland to Dana Point, and many places in between, there was rarely a dull moment. Although it’s impossible to pick out absolute favorites, here are five crazy cool memories from my time on the West Coast, best coast.

1. Hiking to Mammoth Rocks

Since Stephen’s family has a cute vacation house in coastal Nor Cal, we decided to kick off our trip by spending 4th of July weekend exploring the area. Along with watching the annual fireworks over the bay and going to a local pancake breakfast fundraiser, another highlight was hiking along the gorgeous coastline to Mammoth Rocks, which scientists believe the ancient creatures once rubbed up against, creating uniquely shaped smooth patches that exist to this day. 

2. Visiting DreamWorks Studios and the Iconic Hollywood Bowl

When one of your best friends works for DreamWorks (hi P!), touring the studios is an absolute must. Even better? Going to the Hollywood Bowl to watch the DreamWorks 20th anniversary show hosted by Jack Black. That outing was in celebration of another best friend’s 30th birthday (hi B!).

3. Three Days of Disney

It’s no secret that I’m an absolute Disneyland fanatic, so when my mom suggested a three-day girls’ trip (Stephen had to head back to DC a bit sooner than me), I was totally down. Two nights at Disney’s Grand California Hotel helped us pack in nearly three full days of park hopping at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We also enjoyed a special dinner at Downtown Disney’s Rainforest CafĂ©, where animatronic elephants and gorillas put on a spectacular show. Even though I may have tired out my mom and sister with my go, go, go adrenaline rush, overall, it was a really great time.  

4. Giraffe Gazing at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Of course, no trip to California would be complete without a visit to one of the state’s amazing zoos. The Santa Barbara Zoo, located on the Central Coast, is big enough to be fun, but not so big that you get lost walking around. My favorite animal? The giraffes, of course!

5. Trampolining at Sky Zone

Disney, the zoo and trampolining? Yes, I’m definitely a kid at heart. My friend and I had a blast visiting an indoor trampoline park and getting a great workout while catching up. Have you ever been to one of these places? I need to find one around here ASAP and ask whether they have an exercise class I can enroll in.

Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures from Sky Zone because my phone was stashed away inside a locker, so I'll leave you with a couple other final shots instead. 

What have been the highlights of your summer so far? 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why I Don’t Tan (For Faux or For Real)

It’s that time of year again when everyone inevitably starts talking about tanning, whether it comes from a bottle or directly from the sun itself. It’s also the time when some people feel the need to state that this here porcelain-skinned blogger needs to “get some color.” 

My response? I don’t do tans, nor will I ever. First and foremost, I have no desire to risk getting skin cancer, something I’ve seen people of all ages fight, just for the sake of obtaining a fleeting glow. Second, I have no interest in any bottled bronzer on the market, because the honest truth is, I don’t mind being pale. It’s just who I am, how I have always looked, and not something I feel the need to justify to anyone else.

It saddens me to hear fellow smart, talented, beautiful women saying things like, “Please excuse the circles under my eyes,” or “I'm so pale in that picture,” as if we need to apologize for the way we look or preempt others' negative judgment. This especially strikes a chord with me because I've done it, too, putting myself down verbally or in writing, allowing others’ opinions to make me feel insecure. And the one time I did break down and try one of those “facial glow” creams? Along with it causing my skin to freak out, I also thought I looked completely ridiculous.

Tan-free two years ago in Hawaii. 

The way I see it, some people have blue eyes, and some people have brown hair. I have both, plus pale, porcelain skin, just like my sister, grandmother and other Irish relatives before us. I wear makeup because I want to and put care into my appearance because I take pride in looking and feeling my best on my own terms. If someone else loves the way she looks with a faux tan and wants to rock one every summer, that’s awesome. But my fair skin isn’t something I desire to "enhance" or change just because some people might think there’s no place for paleness at the pool.

So when you see me this summer, drenched in sunscreen and wearing a rash guard over my swimsuit for extra sun protection, please don’t ask me why I’m not getting a tan. And if you see me nursing a sunburn that came out even though I slathered myself with the above-mentioned sunblock, please know that this certainly wasn’t intentional or a result of my trying to bring on a golden glow. Also know that I will keep continually trying to be better about protecting my skin and preventing skin cancer. Because while I can certainly live without a tan, getting one the old-fashioned way just might stop me from living at all. 

P.S. I'll be taking a couple weeks off to enjoy the 4th of July holiday and some summer fun. Have a great time celebrating, and I'll see you all again soon! 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Five Things Thursday: Favorite Summer Sayings

As much as I dread the intense humidity that inevitably accompanies Washington D.C. summers, I’m also quick to admit that there’s just something magical about this time of year. After all, summertime means 4th of July, warm evenings on the deck, fun travels to visit family and friends and, of course, flip-flops on my feet day in and day out.

So, to help capture a little bit of summer's intangible magic here on the blog, I’m devoting this week’s Five Things linkup to a few seasonally-inspired sayings.

(via Etsy

(via eighteen25)

(via Etsy

What do you love most about summer?  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Five Things Thursday: Random Musings of the Serious (and Not So Serious) Kind

Happy Thursday! After a short break from participating in the Five Things linkup, I’m back, this time sharing five serious (and not so serious) things on my mind. As always, these are simply my own opinions, and others are free to agree or disagree as they choose. 

1. With so many deadly shootings occurring at schools and elsewhere in this country on a daily basis, it is clear that we have a serious, multifaceted problem that needs to be addressed. Why are so many young men exhibiting a willingness to kill? How does easy access to guns contribute to this problem? The issues are complex and challenging, and for that reason, I think we simply avoid dealing with them. While it’s hard to know exactly what to do or how to help on a personal level, I truly hope we as a nation can arrive at some type of understanding that will alter the terrible path we’re on. After all, mere "thoughts and prayers" following every tragedy don't save lives.

2. Speaking of change, this video really moved me this week, and I think it's way beyond time for our national capital's football team to change its mascot.

3. Something else that recently impacted me is this profound statement by the late scientist Carl Sagan, which was replicated in the season finale of Fox and National Geographic's amazing series Cosmos. Have you seen this show? If not, I highly recommend checking it out on DVD or when it (hopefully) comes back for another season. Although I am not a religious person, I do believe in the power of humanity and in the responsibility we all have to care for one another and for the "pale blue dot" we call home.

4. On a lighter note, my husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary last week (yay!) with a low-key dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. While we both loved our entrees -- smoked salmon for me and ribs for him -- it was the pineapple mojito that really blew me away! The lovely purple (our wedding color) flowers he gave me added an extra special touch to the day, as well.

5. After dinner, we headed to the theater to catch Maleficent. Have you seen it? What did you think? While I thought the story, script and acting could have been strengthened at certain points, Angelina Jolie was of course amazing, as were the special effects. All in all, I'd recommend it.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend, everyone!  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Four Years Ago…

“Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong.”

– Ella Fitzgerald

Happy fourth anniversary to my dearest friend. 

{Photos by Alex Neumann}