For the Love of Camping

Posted 5 May, 2015 by Trish in Life, Road Trip, Travel / 29 Comments

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for the love of camping

The other day I mentioned allowing myself to live on whimsy for a little while. After I mentioned planning a camping trip, someone asked me if this would allow me that whimsy-living time. This gave me a bit of a pause because camping is a lot of work. It’s a lot of work get prepare for the trip–it’s not as though you can just run out to the market if you’ve forgotten something (depending on where you are camping). It’s a lot of work during the trip–oh goodness gracious is camping a lot of work. And it’s a lot of work coming home from camping–just trying to get rid of that campfire smell is work enough!

But despite my tendencies to stress-out easily over silly things, I absolutely love camping and the freedom I feel.

I didn’t grow up in a camping family. I attended a few church camps over the years and loved those trips, but my dad’s joke is that his idea of camping is staying at a Holiday Inn. We experienced a lot as kids, but camping as a family was not one of them. It wasn’t until Scott and I were just barely married that I camped for the first time in a tent, and I absolutely fell in love.

Since that first camping trip, we’ve taken a few others with my mom, sisters, and brother as well as other camping trips just as a couple. After we had kids, we knew we didn’t want to camp under the stars with little ones (big huge kuddos to those families who do it with little ones!), so we cut our camping until two years ago when we borrowed a camper. I’ve shared a bit of our huge camping trip we took last year, and I’m already looking forward to some of the camping we have planned for this year. While it isn’t always sunshine and roses camping with little ones, I’m hoping that we can pass on our love of outdoors and camping with them.

Things I Love About Camping

I could tell you all about the park that we visited (Lake Bob Sandlin, about two hours east of Dallas), but I thought I’d share what I love about camping instead.

Dining Alfresco Makes Everything Tastier
camping breakfast

Here’s where we are a little spoiled with the camper–though we cook everything outside, we don’t have to worry about refrigeration or storage. But even before we had “real” plates and silverware, camp meals have always been so delicious. Chili, hobo packs, fajitas, burgers, pancakes and bacon. There’s nothing like tucking into a good meal in the open.

 

Nature. Everywhere.
Blossoms

We won’t mention the smell of bug spray or how filthy we might be by the end of the day. Ok, or the allergies that plague us. Being surrounded by nature has such a calming and refreshing effect.

 

Being Unconnected
swing time

Sometimes it’s tough to escape the internet, even on phones, but I love the feeling of being absolutely focused in the right here and now while we are camping. When we retreat to the campground, it’s amazing how all of my other worries and concerns just disappear.

 

Messy Hands = Happy Hearts
sisters

Digging in dirt, bubbles spilled all over hands, sticky drippy ice cream, layers of bug spray and sunscreen. Sweat. No one cares!

 

S’Mores
cooking s'mores

I’ve been teaching Elle the art to perfectly roasting a marshmallow. I like mine caught just a little on fire…several times.

 

Together Time
shenanigans

As a family we normally spend quite a bit time together, but this is time together without distractions. There are chores that need to be done, but we all chip in and help. But mostly, we can simply enjoy each other’s company and have a silly good time.

 

No Schedules, No Time-lines
hiking_1

No set time to eat breakfast. No agenda for the day. Lots of room for improvisation. Dinner is served whenever it is cooked. Bedtime? What? While camping can be a lot of work (how many damn trips do I have to take back and forth to get all of the food ready for Scott to cook!), there is something so relaxing about letting go of the regular daily worries. I don’t experience this on any other kind of vacation. So does camping allow me to experience whimsy-time? Absolutely.

Now if I could just recover from all that laundry!!

Do you camp? What do you love about camping?

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An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Posted 30 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 17 Comments

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untamed state by roxane gayTitle: An Untamed State
Author: Roxane Gay
Published: 2014; Pages: 368
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
Rating: Visceral

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Mireille is kidnapped and brutally held captive for a ransom while visiting her homeland of Haiti.

Why I Read: Curiosity. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read, but it has received praise amongst bloggers. I also purchased this as a daily ebook deal, so it was burning a hole in my virtual shelf.

Thoughts in General: It would be really easy to make this post about the graphic nature of An Untamed State. About the violent rape scenes, the physical abuse, the mental trauma. An Untamed State is not an easy read–in fact throughout most of the book it is a fairly uncomfortable read–the kind where you want to look away from the horror, but you know you mustn’t. It is about a woman who endures the unimaginable and barely survives; there is nothing pretty or tidy about this book. Nothing.

As I read the book, I was reminded of one of the essays in Gay’s Bad Feminist, “The Careless Language of Sexual Violence.” You can read the entire article on The Rumpus, but near the end she talks about her penchant for writing about sexual violence. The article in full is worth reading, but this comment really stuck with me while I was reading An Untamed State: “As I write any of these stories, I wonder if I am being gratuitous. I want to get it right. How do you get this sort of thing right? How do you write violence authentically without making it exploitative?  … While I have these concerns, I also feel committed to telling the truth, to saying these violences happen even if bearing such witness contributes to a spectacle of sexual violence.” This became my takeaway of this heartwrenching and gutwrenching book.

The narrative is told mostly from Mireille’s point of view–both as she is in the moment and as she reflects upon her time before the kidnapping–how life’s circumstances shaped who she had become, who she fell in love with and married, and how she must survive the horrors that she experiences at the mercy of a gang of Haitian thugs. It would be easy to shy away from this type of narrative, but Gay is giving a voice to the victims of rape (as Gay herself is a victim of gang rape). She brutally illustrates just how this has damaged and forever changed Mireille. An Untamed State isn’t so much about the physical effects but the emotional and mental effects.

The prose is sparse and quick; the chapters were short and alternated between present time and past time–this made it easy to read through the book at a fast pace. It’s impossible to not want to know how things end for Mireille, no matter how difficult they might be. I did not care for the repetition in the book and every time I read a repeated phrase I was immediately pulled out of the narrative. I wanted something new or a deeper exploration–though at times Gay did satisfy. The characters are difficult to love (even Mireille tells this of herself), but I adored the relationship between Mireille and her mother-in-law Jolene.

The paragraph that I’m trying to avoid. Did I love the book? No. Did I like it? I’m not sure. It’s almost the same conflicting feeling that I feel about Lolita–how do you enjoy reading a book about a deranged pedophile? Can we look past the subject to see the art? And while I cannot compare Gay’s prose to Nabokov’s, the beauty in this book comes from the honesty in which she explores the raw intensity of Mireille’s emotions. This is what makes the book worth reading. I’m glad to have read it but I won’t call it a favorite nor the best book. Makes sense in my head, yes?

Bottom Line: After I finish a book I often wonder who I would recommend it to. Sometimes I finish a book and have no idea–this is one of those cases. Not to say that I wouldn’t recommend it, but brace yourself for the grip this book will place on you. Read this book if you want to be challenged and to push the boundaries of your emotions.

What is one of the most emotionally challenging books you’ve read?

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Right Now I Am… [4.28.2015]

Posted 28 April, 2015 by Trish in Life / 25 Comments

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Right Now I Am...

 

I’m totally cheating. I’m a much more organized blogger when I have something in the hopper, but I’ve been busy and tired lately and thus not much has stayed in the hopper. I do plan to write up a post for Elle’s fourth birthday, but those posts always take a lot of time to write. Anything picture heavy takes me a long time to write. Ok, kind of anything takes me a long time to write. Do you just whip out posts or do they take you longer than they should?

A friend recently asked when I make the time to write up posts. Just like anything else I do, here and there. When an idea sparks, I try to fit it into the schedule. Ideally I would love a Sunday book post, a Tuesday book post, a Thursday personal post, and a Saturday cooking post. Obviously I follow this willy nilly! I will work on bits and pieces of a post as I find moments–especially during naptimes on Saturday and Sunday, but the rest is just filled in here and there–usually during quiet time at work or lunch. I hate to work on the computer in the evening, but this is usually when I add any pictures to a post I’ve been working on throughout the day. I always schedule my posts. If it doesn’t get written the day before (or ideally two or three days before), it doesn’t get posted.

Smiley Girls_1

two of my nieces with the birthday girl

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these…

Listening To: Ever since the Superbowl, Elle has been obsessed with Katy Perry. We’ve been listening to a lot of Roar lately (she calls this the “Superbowl Song”) and she thinks the words are “I’ve got the eye of the tiyo, into the fiyo…because I am a camper…”  I’ve told her the real words but she refuses to listen to me. Otherwise I’m listening to Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer.

Reading: I’m halfway through An Untamed State by Roxane Gay and a quarter of the way through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  Both are page turners in their own right and I wish I could binge read them both in one night!

Currently Reading_1

Watching: Scott and I are currently on Season 4 of Alias. I’m really enjoying the show except we are suffering from “one more episode” syndrome and more times than not I fall asleep during the last episode. Wondering what we should binge next. The Sopranos? What are you currently binge watching?

Eating: Haha! Remember the sugar reset? Well, I’m trying to continue to be mindful of what goes in my mouth. I’ve been very good about bread and pasta…except for pizza. Though I will note that I have NOT added sweetener back to my coffee! Scott is as shocked about this as I am.

Making: My craft room has been in a state of disorder lately. I’m nearly finished with one quilt top for the girls and have started on another, but I need more fabric, have to plan and do quilt math, and I’ve been avoiding it like the plague! I really need to get back to that.

Planning: Camping this weekend! It’ll be our first trip of the season and the weather looks like it’ll be perfect.

IMG_9434_1

Feeling: Unfocused and all over the place. I think I just need to allow myself live on whimsy for a little while. That makes sense more in my head than it does typed out.

Loving: The green everywhere! We’ve had SO much rain lately. After being in drought conditions for a few years, our lakes are mostly all full and everything looks so lush.

IMG_9426

Wanting: Can you guess? I bet you can guess.

Looking Forward To: Is it too early to start planning for the October readathon? Because I’m super bummed to have missed last week’s event. And I can’t wait to use my new Readathon Mug!

Would love to hear what YOU are listening to, reading, watching, eating, making, planning, feeling, loving, wanting, thinking, and looking forward to.

I’m also curious what your blogging process looks like. Do you write in the moment or draft ahead? Do you schedule time to write or just write when you can?

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In Which I Try to Have Style |Stitch Fix Friday

Posted 24 April, 2015 by Trish in Life / 23 Comments

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Stitch Fix FridayConfession: I have very little fashion sense. I don’t wear make-up like a grown woman would (truly I just can’t be bothered). My hair is rarely done and frequently overgrown (#shorthairproblems). I’ve been wearing the same brown Doc Marten boots for 15 years.  And when I decided to stay at home with Evie for a year any effort I would have made into looking put together went straight out the window.

Well, with the exception that I would not allow myself to wear yoga pants and tshirts during the day (unless you count fitted tees from Target). I even made an effort most days to put on some kind of shoes (of the tennis variety).

Over the past little while, though, I’ve come to realize that there is a difference between looking put together and feeling put together, even if the two usually go hand in hand. At least for me. When I look more put together, I generally feel more put together. And the more I feel put together, the more I want to look put together.

Since returning to an office setting, I quickly became aware at how lacking my wardrobe had become since having a second baby. Many of my old work clothes are a tad too tight but also a little too dressy for my current job. I could wear jeans and tshirt every day to work if I wanted to, but my mindset changes based on what I am wearing.

Three things currently play against me when it comes to clothing. First, I hate spending money on clothes for myself. I have no issues buying a brand new book that I won’t read for years, but a nice sweater? Forget it. Clothing for the girls? Oh hold me, I have no self control for those cute little girly things! But I rather do just about anything than go jean (or bra!) shopping. Second, those stubborn couple of pounds that just won’t let go. Do I really want to buy clothes for right now when I hope that I’ll be a tiny bit smaller in the future? Or conversely, be pregnant again? Third, time. Ugh, the time to go shopping alone. Lately if I buy anything, it’s off the hanger and I don’t try it on until I’m home. (See above convenience shopping at Target…)

Enter Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix Delivery

Stitch Fix is a a personal styling service that I’ve been hearing about from various blogging (and personal) friends for a year or so. I was really hesitant to join because I would have to fill out a personal style quiz…and I’m not really sure what my personal style is. Also, I have heard that it’s costly, and when used to shopping at Target and Old Navy, anything more than $30 feels costly (nevermind all of the children’s clothes and books I’ve purchased since I first heard of Stitch Fix).

One of my goals for this year was to be more mindful of my appearance, including my clothing. I truly admire people who can spin an outfit and look so tidy, but I don’t have very much confidence in my own look. It isn’t that I don’t care about looking nice (not to be confused with fashion…I don’t care about fashion), it’s almost like I don’t know how to or what kinds of clothes flatter my body.

One morning, as I browsed through the clothes in my closet, I felt so discouraged and defeated. I hated ev-ery-thing. Many of my items are years old (pre-babies), worn, outdated, or just don’t fit well. This was around the same time that Candace of Beth Fish Reads posted about her lucky 11 Stitch Fix box. I signed up for my first fix that afternoon.

I filled out the style profile, which really wasn’t that bad, and then waited with so much anticipation while my “stylist” picked out items for me. She took into account the body parts I wanted to highlight or hide, the cuts of clothing that I liked, various styles, which pieces I was most interested in trying (I specifically mentioned looking for jeans). If you have a Pinterest style board (which I don’t really), this is also a great way for your stylist to get to know your style.

**And do I really need to disclaim that this is NOT a sponsored post? All the clothes were bought and paid for by meeeeeeeeeee. Though I did sign up through someone else’s referral code, and if you decide to try out Stitch Fix after reading this post, I would love it if you used my referral code!**

First Stitch Fix

First Stitch FixSorry about the iphone pictures. Ahem.

Initial Thoughts: It was so much fun opening up the box and pulling out all of the items! Elle thought this was a blast, too, and tried on all the clothes with me. I should have snapped a picture. When pulling out the clothes, I knew that they would be more expensive than what I would normally spend. I really tried to keep in mind that this is a service and that I was paying someone to pick out clothing to me. I didn’t have to pay for shipping to receive the items or to mail them back. In order to not let price play a factor in my opinion, I decided not to look at my invoice until I tried on all of the items and formed a mental estimate of what I would likely pay if I did want to keep the item.

Items Received:

Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse – Orange is not a color I would pick out for myself. Not in a million years. But I loved the fit of this top and the embellishments on the bodice. Most times I wear this shirt tucked into my jeans. Kept.

Owen Tie Neck Blowse – Nice flowy feel, but the black vertical lines you see are woven and thus see-through. This makes the top feel very sexy, despite the coverage. Kept.

Sawyer Space Dye Dolman Sleeve Knit Top – I absolutely loved the fit of this top but the color is army green (tough to tell in the picture), and I didn’t think the color suited my skin tone. Returned.

Anita Skinny Pant – Scott loved these black pants. They fit nicely in the waist and had a good stretch to them, but they were too small in the thighs. Scott’s opinion be damned. It’s hard to tell in the pictures, but I think I’m wearing these with the orange top and the black top.

Marson Wide Leg Jean – Again, too small. Which means that I’ve likely underestimated my bottom size. Infinite sad face. Pictured (just barely) in the bottom right. Returned.

Stitch Fix Cards 1

Final Thoughts: The experience was so much stinking fun. It almost felt a bit thrilling to be trying on these pieces that someone hand picked for me. With the “fix” came style cards for each item of clothing. This provides different outfit ideas for each piece. I love this little guide as I need all the help I can get.

Now about the pricing. The pants were in the $70-90 range and the tops in the $40-50 range. The jeans I’m wearing while typing this post were purchased at Target for $20 (cartwheel discount baby!). So. But both tops I kept fit well, look nice, and make me feel nice. In the end that was worth spending a little extra. There are different price points included in the fixes and you can tell your stylist what you would like to spend on pieces. I put myself around the middle. I’m not sure what pieces from the lower level would look like in terms of pricing.

Once I decided what to keep and what to return, I filled out my exit survey on Stitch Fix and told my stylist exactly what I liked and didn’t like about each item, how each item fit, and how the price fit within my expectation. I then dropped the unwanted items into their pre-paid package and dropped it in the mail. Easy Peasy.

 

Second Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix - Dolman

Thanks to Elle for taking these pictures with my iphone. She’s a better photographer than I am. Scott took the two below with me by the tree, which is why I’m making faces. Awkward!

 

Carly Multi-Stone Layering Necklace – I loved this necklace and have been really trying to be better about wearing statement jewelry. This was one item that when I opened the invoice I decided it had to go back. I think it was $38. Returned.

Corinna Striped Heathered Dolman Top – So damn comfortable. Of course after a couple wearings I learned that it is hand-wash. But I love the softness and the fit. Kept.

Marin White Demin Jacket – Fun! But I didn’t know how much wear I would get out of the jacket with our short-lived spring, and I feared the little hands all over the white. Inspired by this fix, I did get a regular jean jacket last week (from Old Navy). Returned.

Colleen Straight Leg Jean – Too small and unflattering. See pictures by the tree. Returned. Jeans in top picture are from Target (Mossimo and I love them). White capris below are from Old Navy. Bought inspired by the fix.

Fallon Mixed Print Sleeveless Blouse – The colors! The design! Another top I would not have tried on in the store. It is a touch big in the chest, but works great with a tank top. I love it tucked in or out. Kept.

Stitch Fix - Sleeveless

 

Stitch Fix Cards 2

 

 

Right now I’m set to have a fix come every other month, or about every 8 weeks. I’m not sure if I’ll continue on this frequency, but it seems like a good interval to add a few new pieces to my wardrobe as I continue to recycle out older pieces. Honestly I would love to get rid of 90% of my closet, but the thought depresses me. Even though I don’t wear it! Baby steps. I did see that Stitch Fix has recently started including maternity and petite clothing in their fixes.

On the fence about whether to sign up or not? If you choose not to keep anything in your box, you only pay the $20 styling fee and it’s absolutely no hassle to return everything they’ve sent. If you’re on the fence, I say leap over! I’m already looking forward to my next fix!

If you do decide to give StitchFix a chance after reading this post, I would love it if you used my Referral Code.

So tell me, what’s your style philosophy? Where do you receive style inspiration?

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On Immunity | The Know It All {Audiobook Review}

On Immunity | The Know It All {Audiobook Review}

Hi Guys! I started this post off with some mini-thoughts on several audiobooks, but then ended up having more to say than I thought I did. I’ve been listened and reading a lot of good books lately, but sometimes I find that when I’m done with them I don’t have a ton to say. Or too much time passes and I forget what I want to say. But here are some sorta quick thoughts on […]

Posted 22 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 21 Comments
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Birthday Invitations with Picmonkey | Inspiration on Monday

Birthday Invitations with Picmonkey | Inspiration on Monday

  I don’t think it’s a secret that I loooooooove PicMonkey. I love it so much that I recently upgraded my account to the Royale version (after sadly eyeing those premium features that I couldn’t get my hands on). However, you can do so much with the free version of PicMonkey, including most of the below (the exceptions are the bunting, ribbon, and font style). Since Elle’s birthday is coming up and I had so […]

Posted 20 April, 2015 by Trish in Crafty / 14 Comments
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Reading while Traveling

Reading while Traveling

    Last week I traveled all the way across Texas for business, which meant a few hours in the airport and on the plane. Since I’m normally traveling with littles, I was so excited to be able to pull out my book and read as much as I could in transit. I’ve always loved airport reading. Browsing the airport bookstores to see what they have on display. Spying on my fellow travelers to see […]

Posted 19 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook / 25 Comments
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On Being Alone

On Being Alone

Last month the operations manager at my company’s satellite office asked me to come down to her office to train with her for a week. I admit I kind of blew it off–especially as Scott has been traveling more and more for work and I didn’t want the girls to be subjected to so much traveling parents. But finally from urging from both of them, I booked the trip. And then the excitement over having […]

Posted 16 April, 2015 by Trish in Life, Mommyhood / 33 Comments
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Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple

Title: Where’d You Go Bernadette Author: Maria Semple Narrator: Kathleen Wilhoite Published: 2012; Pages: 352 Audio Duration: 9 hrs, 39 mins Genre: Fiction Rating: I didn’t want to stop listening On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible In Short: Bernadette Fox, quirky architectural genius and mom to Bee, goes missing. The events leading up to her disappearance are pieced together through letters, hospital bills, emails, and other methods of correspondence. Why I Listened: You guys […]

Posted 14 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 26 Comments
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Sunday Bookish Questions

Sunday Bookish Questions

Several weeks ago Trisha from Eclectic/Eccentric tagged me in a little Bookish Questions meme. I’ve been saving these questions for a rainy weekend, and here we are! 1. What time of day do you typically read/do you prefer to read? Have I mentioned to y’all before that I don’t always read every day? Sacrilege, I know! Though I do tend to listen to audiobooks almost every weekday when I travel to and from work. Sometimes […]

Posted 12 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook / 22 Comments
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