My favorite things of summer

The quintessential summer day, hanging out with my niece at the lake.

The quintessential summer day, hanging out with my niece at the lake.

As much as I enjoy the long, warm days of summer and being able to spend weekends at the lake, I’m itching for the wondrous cool days of autumn. Days of boots, leggings, warm scarves, cozy blankets and hot coffee are in my near future! But until then, here are the things I’m loving most this summer.

  • “New Girl.” This is another show that I had heard amazing things about, but never took the time to watch. There is often a drought in quality TV shows in the middle of summer, so it’s Netflix to the rescue! I got Brett to watch this with me, and there have been many times where I have laughed so hard, I have tears in my eyes. It’s kooky and hilarious, and I can’t stop watching it!
Target.com

Target.com

  • Room Essentials Global Stripe Pillow.Β I love throw pillows. Brett does not. But he tolerates them for my sake. I was craving some color in our living room. Our carpet is brown, our couches are brown, our curtains are navy blue and I had teal and grey throw pillows on the couch. It needed some zest. I found these affordable and bright throw pillows at Target. I love how they still go with our color scheme, but give a nice pop of color to the room.
Aren't they adorable?

Aren’t they adorable?

  • Roxy Women’s Schooner Boat Shoe.Β These are probably more like a spring or fall shoe, but I found them just recently and I’m obsessed with them. They are adorable and go great with capris or jeans. Love, love, love.
  • “The Winter People” by Jennifer McMahon.Β I don’t normally pick up books that are compared to Steven King novels, but the description sounded so intriguing. I decided to give it a try, and I’m hooked. I admit, I have gotten slightly frightened while reading this in bed at night (or more like I turn off the light and throw the blanket over my head if I hear a noise) but it’s so good! I have sped through the first half and can’t wait to see what is going to happen next.

    Target.com

    Target.com

  • Weekender bag. Brett and I are going to be going on vacation soon, and I had been looking into getting a bigger bag to haul around all my carry-on items (camera, wallet, books, snacks, etc.). I saw this at Target the other day, and it’s perfect. It has handles, plus a strap so you can wear it cross-body style. It’s roomy and has lots of pockets. I can’t wait to try it out!

What are some items you are loving this season?

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Let’s go on vacation!

When it comes to vacations, Brett and I often fly by the seat of our pants. We usually have a basic idea of what we want to do, but we also tend to go with the flow and discover cool ways to spend our time when we arrive at our destination.

On our first major vacation together to San Francisco – our honeymoon – we purchased tickets to go to Alcatraz before our trip, and we knew we wanted to see sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, ride a trolley and visit Chinatown.

Brett posing at the entrance of Chinatown.

Brett posing at the entrance of Chinatown.

We didn’t plan to visit the California Academy of Sciences, go on a whale watching tour, tour the Aquarium of the Bay, eat fish and chips while watching the sea lions at Pier 39 or have ice cream in Ghirardelli Square. But we did, and it was amazing!

Enjoying our whale watching boat ride in the San Francisco Bay.

Enjoying our whale watching boat ride in the San Francisco Bay.

One of our favorite parts of our trip: the sea lions!

One of our favorite parts of our trip: the sea lions!

On our last trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina, I had high hopes to go parasailing. But the weather didn’t cooperate. I was pretty bummed, but we made the most of our time there and discovered so much in a short trek to Roanoke Island. We toured the Elizabethan Gardens and Roanoke Island Festival Park.

The gorgeous Elizabethan Gardens and my handsome husband. :)

The gorgeous Elizabethan Gardens and my handsome husband. πŸ™‚

Plus, we spent way more time than I thought we would swimming in the ocean and strolling the beach. We didn’t have a lot of plans, and I loved it.

Being goofy on the beach!

Being goofy on the beach!

It will be a little different for our upcoming vacation. We had planned since the beginning of the year to attend Brett’s sister’s wedding in New York state. Once I realized how close the site of her wedding was to where my sister lives in Pennsylvania (about a five-hour drive), we scheduled a few extra days to spend with my sister.

We soon had to decide which airport we would fly into, if we needed to rent a car, whether or not we wanted to hit up some big destination spots while were in the area (New York City, Jersey Shore, Boston, etc.) and how long we wanted to stay. This stressed me out a bit. I have never rented a car before and had no clue how pricey it can be. I really dread layovers and wanted to find an airline where we could have a direct flight. Luckily, I talked with my sister-in-law and sister and got some great advice. My sister-in-law advised us to fly in and out of the same airport in order to avoid crazy rental car fees. My sister suggested flying Southwest Airlines into Baltimore, an hour drive from her house and also a direct flight to and from our destination. Score!

Now, on to the fun stuff! Once we arrive in Baltimore, we plan to hang out at my sister’s until the next day when we will drive to New York for the rehearsal dinner and wedding. I had high hopes to visit New York City or Boston while we were in the area, but with a limited amount of time and a lot more driving to add to our schedule, we decided it would be a little more relaxing to just enjoy our time in Pennsylvania. After the wedding festivities, I wanted to take an alternate route to return to my sister’s house. Turns out we can drive through Scranton, PA (where “The Office” takes place) and only add about 30 minutes to our drive. Score No. 2!

With two days left at my sister’s house, we are planning to check out Gettysburg and the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I have been to the aquarium before, but Brett hasn’t been there and I know he will love it.

I wasn’t expecting to have a trip filled with windshield time and traversing four states on the east coast. But the closer we get to our vacation, the more excited I am about what we have planned and that we get to spend this joyous time with our family! Plus, road trips where Brett and I blare music, have random conversations and see amazing sites are truly the best. πŸ™‚

Nebraska girl living in Wyoming

My mom and I were chatting the other day about what Brett and I are planning for the future, where we would like to settle down, etc. It was when she described me as a “WyoBraska” girl that I was up in arms.

“No!” I exclaimed. “I’m a Nebraska girl living in Wyoming.” Ever since I moved to Wyoming, my pride for my home state has only strengthened. My new home does not have Runza and there are few fields of lush crops. Husker fans do not come out in droves on Saturdays in the fall here. Wyoming does not have my beloved lakes, rivers, breathtaking Nebraska sunsets, flat lands and rolling hills. And most of all, it doesn’t have the friendly, giving, generous Nebraskans I know as my friends and family.

One of my favorite views in Nebraska, Chimney Rock.

One of my favorite views in Nebraska, Chimney Rock.

I often feel like a high school girl with a crush on a boy. Any chance I get to mention my home state, I’m eager to talk about it. If someone brings up a Nebraska town, site or restaurant, I feel my heart swell with pride. “I know all about that! Talk to me about it! Let me tell you how awesome it is,” I want to shout.

But as each day passes, I’m growing fond of my new home. I was resistant to it at first. I can’t like to live in a place that isn’t home, I thought. But I do. Having a job where I’m surrounded by supportive, smart, funny and inspirational people is a huge bonus. I have received flowers more than once as a thank you for running stories for people in the newspaper. I find myself taking on ventures I never thought I was capable of doing. And I’m working on projects that involve fascinating, charismatic and truly incredible people. And they all call Wyoming home.

alissa and keri

Lovely friends I made in Wyoming.Β 

While I don’t have a large gang of friends here, the people I have met are near and dear to my heart. Whether we are going out to dinner, chatting over coffee, seeing movies or playing ridiculous card games, they have filled my life with laughter and joy.

As the state with the least amount of people, it’s easy to think of Wyoming as desolate and empty with few opportunities. I have found the opposite to be true. While the economy here tends to rise and fall with oil prices, new businesses and restaurants are continuously popping up. I love that there are still eateries and stores I haven’t discovered. It’s fun to see what is out there, and try something new. Plus, Wyoming is a vast state with amazing things to see. I feel a little foolish that I have only traversed the eastern part of the state when the western half has so much to offer. I’m hoping to make a trip to Yellowstone ASAP, but I have seen and done some incredible things within only a few minutes of my front door.

Brett and I at Ayres Natural Bridge.

Brett and I at Ayres Natural Bridge.

On our first visit to Alcova Lake.

On our first visit to Alcova Lake.

Speaking of places to visit in Wyoming, the scenery in this part of the country is breathtaking. While it is a small mountain, I can drive to the top of Casper Mountain in 30 minutes. And what a site it is to see! The Big Horn Mountains near Sheridan are breathtaking. I’m also just a short jaunt from places such as Alcova and Pathfinder Reservoirs, Ayres Natural Bridge, Garden Creek Falls and the North Platte River. Even if you are just driving the interstate, you will see natural spectacles.

The transition from moving from the place I was born and raised wasn’t easy. I still have moments of homesickness and where I’m ready to get back to the good life. Yet, I know if I do leave Wyoming, I will miss it. I will miss hiking Casper Mountain on warm Saturday afternoons, eating at local restaurants with divine cuisine, snow in April (I’m weird I know), jaw-dropping scenery and most of all, the wonderful people who have made life in Wyoming worth living.

Fourth of July Festivities

fourth dad

My dad and I on the Fourth of July.

My mom and I on the Fourth of July.

My mom and I on the Fourth of July.

I hope everyone had a fantastic and festive Fourth of July! Mine was full of fun, time with family, fireworks and great food.

Brett had to work the entire weekend, and I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked. I had Friday off, so I took the day to get some errands done before I left town Saturday. I cleaned around the house, had lunch with Brett, did some shopping at Target and Bath and Body Works and washed my car. Did you know they have many original scents back at BBW, and they are on clearance!? I was ecstatic and stocked up!

Because we weren’t going to see much of each other over the weekend, Brett and I went out to dinner at his favorite restaurant, Shogun. After dinner, the weather was gorgeous so we picked up our dogs, rolled the windows down and went for a long drive. We ventured out of town to the east of Casper and saw some gorgeous scenery as the sun began to set. Why we didn’t take photos, I’m not sure, but it was breathtaking!

On Saturday, I made the drive back to my hometown in Nebraska. Brett had to work the evening on the Fourth of July, and my best friend was also going to be home. I hate leaving my hubby behind, but I wanted to spend some time with my family and bestie over the holiday. We spent the day at the lake, soaking up some sun, chatting and swimming. It was heavenly. πŸ™‚

After our afternoon at the lake, my parents and I had dinner at Chili’s and went fireworks shopping. There is a ban on fireworks in Casper, and our Fourth of July last year was pretty underwhelming. I completely understand the reasoning behind the ban, but the Fourth of July is not the same without sparklers, artillery shells and fountains. I was giddy to be able to light off fireworks this year.

brayden

jayla

My niece and nephews are at such a fun age. They love to help wherever they can and scream in delight when there are explosions in the sky. It’s so adorable to watch their faces. Plus, they still like giving hugs and hanging out with me. πŸ™‚

On Sunday, my parents and I lounged around, chatting and watching TV. We grabbed lunch at Runza (my favorite) and I headed back to Casper.

Time spent with my family is my favorite. It went by way too fast, but I’m looking forward to spending more time back home later this summer!

Summertime at the Cinema

Brett being his goofy self at the movies.

Brett being his goofy self at the movies.

Brett and I probably watch more movies and television shows that are good for us, but I like to think we have a healthy balance of adding other fun things in the mix! Movies and TV shows have always been something we love to indulge in together, and there is nothing quite like escaping the summer heat than watching a movie in theaters. We have managed to squeeze in quite a few movie viewings already this summer. Here is what I thought of the movies we saw in the past month:

  • “Tomorrowland.” I thought this movie had a really interesting premise, and you can’t help but like it’s heroine played by Britt Robertson. There was a lot of lead-up before actually getting to the mysterious Tomorrowland, and I started to get a little impatient with the pace of the film. I was ready for some fun, sci-fi/fantasy action. There was some, but the story fell flat. I would recommend waiting to watch this at home.
  • “Spy.” I was so, so excited for this move. I absolutely loved Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids,” “The Heat” and even “Tammy.” “Spy” is probably the funniest movie I have seen since “Bridesmaids.” The most surprising aspect of it was the incredibly hilarious Jason Statham. I was laughing so hard, I had tears in my eyes. Don’t miss this!
  • “Jurassic World.” The original “Jurassic Park” was a staple part of my childhood. I remember watching it over and over with my dad. I had pretty high expectations for this one. The action was amazing, and the dinosaurs did not disappoint. I wasn’t crazy about the side-plot going on where they tried to create a human villain with some weird ambitions, but it wasn’t distracting enough to ruin the movie. Great action movie for 2015!
  • “Inside Out.” This is probably one of the movies I was most looking forward to this summer. I absolutely adore Mindy Kaling and Amy Poehler, and the concept of this film is brilliant. You don’t have to be a kid to love this movie. Anyone can relate to what Riley is going through, and the voices inside her head are hilarious and heartbreaking. Make sure to see this before summer is over! It’s a must-see. πŸ™‚
  • “Terminator Genisys.” I have seen bits and pieces of the original Terminator movies. I liked “Terminator Salvation,” and I was excited to see that Emilia Clarke (Daenerys in “Game of Thrones”) and Matt Smith (“Doctor Who”) were going to be in this version. While it’s not getting the best reviews right now, I really enjoyed this movie. It had intense action sequences and the occasional comedic moment tossed in. It’s a fun time at the movies.

Two movies that I wanted to see this summer but I’m now going to wait until they are on Netlix or HBO are “Hot Pursuit” and “Aloha.” They got some pretty scathing reviews. Normally, I try to not let that deter me, but it’s hard to plunk down $20 to see a movie that the mass majority are tearing to bits.

What movies have you loved or hated this summer?Β